Archive for February 2009
FLINT, Michigan — It looks like the city’s much-hyped biogas plant may have secured nearly $1 million in additional funding — this time from the federal government.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed an appropriations bill that includes a $951,500 earmark to help fund the project, according to a news release from U.S. Rep. Dale E. Kildee, D-Flint.
San Francisco—The nation’s first “cow-powered” truck debuts Feb. 10 at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, CA.
Two trucks that normally run on diesel have been converted to run on biomethane – produced from cow manure at Hilarides Dairy.
This renewable fuels model reduces global warming emissions (methane from manure), air pollution (from diesel emissions) and dependence on fossil fuels, without a food-fuel trade-off in land use.
Nationally, dairy cows could power about one million vehicles with clean-burning biomethane.
Two huge tanks with rounded, mushroom lids loom above the snowdrifts, the first glimpse of Alberta’s oddest-looking electricity plant and also its greenest.
About one megawatt of power flows out on the wires — enough power to run the next-door feedlot and turn on the lights in 700 homes in Vegreville and Two Hills.
Two more gigantic tanks are under construction, and beside them, the site is cleared for the final installation, an ethanol plant, the greenest in Canada, thanks to homegrown, Alberta inventions.
In the land of big oil, a fledgling alternative energy economy is taking shape down on the farm and it’s based on that most plentiful of Alberta resources–a smelly, endless supply of cattle poop. That and the inventiveness of two sets of farmer brothers and a scientist from China who made Edmonton her home.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems has developed a pilot-scale biogas plant that’s 85 percent efficient for producing heat and electricity from agricultural waste.
According to Michael Stelter, a researcher at IKTS, the biogas plant includes a pretreatment process that reduces the time it takes agricultural waste to break down so it can be fermented. The biogas plant also includes a fuel cell that converts biogas to heat and electricity.
Using an enzymatic hydrolysis pretreatment, the biogas plant technology increases the amount of biomass available for fermentation, Stelter said. The technology also reduces the amount of time it takes for the biomass to decompose and ferment into biogas by 50 to 70 percent. Fermentation time is reduced from 80 to 30 days, he said, and the plant generates 30 percent more biogas than conventional technologies.
Where others see simply manure, Danny Kluthe smells money.
Long before President Barack Obama promised the country that “we will harness the sun and the winds and the soil,” Kluthe already had yoked the power of pig poop.
Manure from his hogs drains as a slurry into a giant vat. It is stirred and warmed. A virtually odorless liquid — ideal for fertilizing surrounding fields that, in turn, feed more pigs — emerges from the giant digester.
The real beauty, though, comes in the methane fumes that rise off the muck. They are funneled to a tractor engine and used to power a generator. Suddenly his electrical utility is writing checks to him.
“There will be a day when there will not be a hog facility or a dairy built without one of these things,” Kluthe said. “This,” he said with the glee of someone who has figured out how to spin straw into gold, “just makes too much sense.”