Enosburg Falls, VT – Most people know about composting—the natural recycling process that converts food scraps, leaves, and manures into soil building compost and mulch. What is less known is that this decomposition process also generates a substantial amount of heat.

Agrilab Technologies, Inc. in Enosburg Falls has developed a patented system to help farms, commercial compost sites, universities, and municipalities capture this renewable thermal energy. Currently, it is being used to heat greenhouses or buildings, meet demands for hot water, and maintain aquaculture environments–while producing valuable compost products.

These kinds of operations have relied on propane, oil and diesel for the bulk of their energy needs. Capturing this waste heat can play a valuable role in offsetting dependence on fossil fuels, reducing operating expenses, and increasing productivity.

Agrilab’s approach relies on active aeration of compost piles and its use of specialized heat exchange equipment, efficient electric fans, circulator pumps, monitors, controls and hot water storage. The improved airflow through the compost piles actually reduces the time it takes to finish the compost products—adding to overall savings. Producers are also reporting easier odor management and improved product quality to go along with the energy savings.

“It’s exciting to provide systems to farms and compost producers that capture renewable thermal energy from materials that have historically been treated as wastes or pollution liabilities,” says Agrilab Founder and President Brian Jerose. “Our team provides economical solutions for biomass energy while generating a soil-building product.”

This short video shows how the compost heat recovery works.