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Cost-effective farm waste-to-energy technology focus of research
Date:10/16/2008

vert manure liquid into methane for heat and electricity while extracting fiber for soil enrichment or ethanol manufacture and water for irrigation. Other valuable output could include animal feed and algae, which can be processed into biofuels.

Anaerobic digestion is not a new concept, and has been applied in recent years by some large dairy farms to generate power. Development of scalable, modular systems could allow smaller farms, those with fewer than 500 head of cattle, to convert waste into valuable resources. Despite the loss of two-thirds of U.S. dairies since 1988, such smaller operations still account for 53 percent of the 71,510 remaining and 48 percent of U.S. milk production, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"The enhanced revenues and reduced pollution from the proposed system will significantly improve the quality of life and health of residents in rural communities and turn an environmental and economic liability into a public and private asset," said project lead investigator Wei Liao, an assistant professor of biosystems and agricultural engineering. "It is our hope that success at this level will lead to extensive applications of similar technology throughout Michigan and the nation."

The ADRE Center also is expected to conduct contract testing of related equipment and processes to help support itself, and to house a recently created farm energy auditing program that could conduct digester/power system feasibility studies for dairy clients.

"Agricultural operations are extensive energy users. Most can reduce their energy use, sometimes even resulting in increased production, by adopting new high-efficiency technologies," said MSU professor Truman Surbrook, who is managing director of the Michigan Agricultural Electric Council. "Advances in this field are occurring at such a rapid pace that it is hard for producers to keep up without the assistance of highly trained personnel such as Michigan's cer
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Contact: Mark Fellows
mark.fellows@ur.msu.edu
517-884-0166
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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