Manure Manager

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Could food, farm waste fuel MN fair?


September 8, 2010
By Manure Manager

September 2, 2010, St.
Paul, MN – Collecting manure samples is probably not high on the to-do list of
many Minnesota State Fair goers. But that’s exactly what George Johnson, a
scientist with St. Paul-based Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH®) does every day
during the fair’s 12-day run – all in an effort to create renewable energy.



September 2, 2010, St.
Paul, MN – Collecting manure samples is probably not high on the to-do list of
many Minnesota State Fair goers. But that’s exactly what George Johnson, a
scientist with St. Paul-based Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH®) did every day
during the fair’s 12-day run – all in an effort to create renewable energy.

Johnson, State Fair
facilities staff, and University of Minnesota (U of M) researchers collected
samples of food waste and manure to learn whether they could be combined with
waste from the nearby U of M campus and converted to renewable energy via a
renewable energy technology called an “anaerobic digester” on or near the fair
grounds and adjacent U of M campus.

“An anaerobic digester
breaks down organic materials like food and animal waste,” Johnson explained. “Methane
gas created in the process can be used to fuel generators that produce
electricity and heat for use at nearby facilities. Solids from the process are
reused as animal bedding, compost, or fertilizer.”

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Depending on the research,
the effort could serve as a pilot project for the entire state, and possibly be
implemented on a smaller scale at thousands of farms across the U.S. with
similar waste disposal and energy needs.

With more than 1.5 million
visitors and hundreds of animals on site, the State Fair averages around 1,200
tons of food waste and 2,000 tons of animal manure each year.

According to State Fair
general manager Jerry Hammer, the Minnesota State Fair currently recycles 500
tons of paper, glass, metal, and more than a dozen other materials, and
composts 2,400 tons of barn waste, food waste and other organic material each
year.

“The State Fair has long
been committed to green projects, from our educational displays such as the
award-winning Eco Experience, to our massive recycling and composting
programs,” Hammer said.

An informational display
explaining the waste sampling project and anaerobic digester process was
featured in the Warner Coliseum during the fair.


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