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Image text: "Food waste pump proves itself at US University Biogas Plant".

Food Waste Pump Proves Itself at Largest US University Biogas Plant

Landia Press Release:

At the largest University campus AD/Biogas plant in the United States, a chopper pump made by Landia has now completed eight years of continuous robust service, despite the very tough environment of being in a food waste and FOG (fats, oils and greases) reception pit.

The facility at Michigan State University (MSU), which converts over 22,000 tons of food waste annually (from campus dining halls and local food processors, plus manure from MSU’s dairy farm) into renewable energy, opened in 2013, complete with the same Landia Chopper Pump (model DG-I 105).

Contributing towards the process of generating 2.8 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year from the organic waste, the Chopper Pump (which was invented by Landia in 1950), reduces particle sizes as it transfers approximately 5,000 to 10,000 gallons per day into the digester mix tank.

‘Durable and low on maintenance’

The digester at Michigan State University's biogas plantwhich has the Landia Food Waste Pump installed.
The digester at Michigan State University's biogas plant that has the Landia Food Waste Pump installed.

Louis Faivor, Farm Assistant Manager at MSU (South Campus Anaerobic Digester Operator), said:

“Considering the amount of delivered food waste we receive that is contaminated with gloves, bags, dishes and various other debris, the Landia Chopper Pump continues to prove reliable. In fact, it has only received its second rebuild just recently in the whole of the eight years since it was installed when the AD plant first opened back in 2013, which proves just how durable and low on maintenance it is”.

Designed with a unique knife system at its inlet that continually reduces solids in size and ensures no clogging or blockages, the Landia Chopper Pump is easy to service and also low on energy consumption.

The Chopper Pump. Invented by Landia in 1950.
The Chopper Pump. Invented by Landia in 1950.

‘Very tough indeed’

Dana Kirk, an Associate Professor from MSU’s Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, who oversees the AD operation, added:

“Since the plant opened eight years ago, we have managed to reduce contamination levels, but food waste is always susceptible to debris that can damage equipment.
The more we can keep the trash out, the longer the time period we can go without replacing worn parts. The second rebuild was common to wear parts, including the impeller and seals. It is very tough indeed”.

Landia - Tough pumps and mixers
Landia – Tough pumps and mixers

A separate reception pit contains cow manure from the MSU Dairy Teaching and Research Center, while the food waste transferred by the Landia Chopper Pump is sourced from several campus dining halls, food processing and manufacturing facilities in southern Michigan – plus fat, oils and grease from local restaurants. The feedstocks from both the manure and food waste reception pits are pumped into the 10,000-gallon mix tank, where they are blended.

From the power created, only about 20% is needed to sustain the AD process; the rest offsets energy consumption in 10 MSU south campus buildings; equivalent to generating enough energy to power about 250-300 homes. The nutrient-rich fertilizer created through the biogas operation is used on agricultural land.


If your existing food waste pump applications are troublesome and you would like more durable, lower maintenance, trouble-free pumps then don't hesitate to contact the Landia team.

More About Food Waste Pumps

Contrary to what many think, food waste is extremely difficult to pump in an anaerobic digestion facility. Food waste contains metal objects ( bottle tops, cans, eating utensils) plastic, oils, clothing, paper, rubber, glass, rock, string/rope, and all forms of food.

This tough environment wreaks havoc on progressive cavity or rotary lobe pumps in food waste applications.

Food waste pump applications have proven to be a critical part of the biogas production process which is used to make renewable energy, but selecting the best food waste pumps will provide reduced wear, reduced downtime, and lower maintenance costs are the result.

There are reports of progressive cavity pumps needing the rotors and stators replaced every few weeks when used to withdraw food waste slurry from abattoirs.

Hydraulic and mechanical ram pumps and the peristaltic pump (all being positive displacement pumps) may be one solution to many of these applications. They have an energy-efficient (low carbon footprint) and robust design that has proven more durable than other pumps in these tough applications. Chemically aggressive and abrasive liquids are no challenge for these specialized food waste pump applications.

But, the cost of the alternatives is high and a lot higher than the cost of centrifugal pumps which are also top for their efficiency. The Landia Chopper pump is an example of a centrifugal pump that works well in this environment including models with a cast-iron pump casing.

Some of the very most arduous food waste pumping duties occur when:

  • Withdrawing slurry from a hammer mill or grinder
  • Pumping food waste slurry to the pasteurizer tanks
  • Pumping heated food waste sludge to anaerobic digesters.


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