Shenandoah National Park CASE STUDY

In-Vessel Composting

Operator: Shenandoah National Park
Location: Luray, VA
Feedstock: Food Waste, Green Waste, & Agriculture Waste
Capacity: 180 T/year
Year Installed: 2017
Project Components:
  • 20’ Intermodal Earth Flow
  • Bear-proof Doors
  • Biofilter
  • Cold Climate Insulation
  • Solar Powered
  • Food Waste and Landscaping Waste
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Client’s Requirements

Skyland Lodge is nestled along Skyline Drive's highest elevation of 3,680 feet in the
center of Shenandoah National Park. This remote location has proven to be a challenge for waste management of onsite food waste and horse manure/bedding. Located an hour drive to any neighboring town, hauling materials was proving to be costly and inefficient. National Park requirements also prohibit food-waste composting on the ground in the Park. Also, with their surrounding black bear population, Skyland Lodge needed a way to compost without attracting and endangering the local populations of black bears.

Our Solution

In 2017, GMT installed an Intermodal Earth Flow at Skyland Lodge. The 20' long Earth Flow composting system processes up to 0.5 tons/day. The fully-automated in-vessel composting system provides Shenandoah with optimum conditions for hot, aerobic composting. The vessel is an excellent solution for Skyland since it complies with park laws prohibiting open-pile composting.

GMT also designed heavy-duty, bear-proof load doors to meet the National Park requirements. In addition, the Earth Flow system gets 96% of its power from solar panels at the composting site. The Earth Flow composts food scraps in about three weeks with its high-performance mixing and aeration technologies. The Earth Flow incorporates multiple engineering controls to prevent pests and odors. These controls combine automated mixing, bulking agents, positive aeration and bio-filtration in GMT's award winning in-vessel system. 

The finished product is distributed towards their playground, the parks service nurseries, and also to local non-profit farms. 

Scott Stillwagon, Environmental Manager for Delaware North at Shenandoah National Park, indicated that they have been "super pleased with everything" related to the composting system. Scott has been impressed with the lack of odors. "The odor control is perfect," he said. "You don't notice any odors unless the doors are opened." With a very active bear season this spring and challenges with the bears all around the Park, it is exciting to hear that there have been no bears attracted to the compost site. Scott also commented on the unexpected capacity of the Earth Flow, "I'm shocked at how much material we can put into the machine. That's been a huge eye opener. We have plenty of capacity for our needs."

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