This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

August 14, 2002

DOE and USDA to Investigate Power Production from Manure

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced in late July that it will team with DOE to investigate the use of biogas generated from manure to power a microturbine. The cooperative project will draw on the expertise of USDA's Agricultural Research Service, DOE's Office of Biopower, and DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory. The project will be carried out at the Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center at Beltsville, Maryland, and will convert cow manure to biogas using an anaerobic digester. The biogas will fuel a microturbine system to generate as much as 26 kilowatts of electricity and roughly 400,000 Btu per hour of heat. The demonstration project is meant to apply to small dairy farms of 250 cows or less. See the USDA press release.

A new anaerobic digester in Chino, California, is now converting manure from 10 nearby dairies into 210,000 cubic feet of biogas per day. The biogas supplies the fuel for one of two gas-fired engine generators at the facility, generating 500 kilowatts of electricity. The digester, owned by the Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA), processes 225 tons per day of fresh manure from about 3,750 cows. IEUA started up the facility in May and is using electricity produced at the site to remove salt from groundwater. See the IEUA Web site.

A smaller project in Iowa, also started up in May, was declared a success in late July. The digester converts manure from 700 cows at the Top Deck Holstein Dairy Farm into 130 kilowatts of electricity, using both a 100-kilowatt engine generator and a 30-kilowatt Capstone microturbine. See the press release from Alliant Energy, one of the partners in the project.

The Toronto Zoo may get into the bioenergy business as well. The zoo was recently awarded $30,000 from the city's "Green Municipal Funds" to investigate power production from biodigestion of animal wastes. The zoo currently composts its animal wastes. See the August 6th press release from the City of Toronto.