Energy

October 4, 2017, Finland – The electricity used at this year’s Helsinki International Horse Show will be produced entirely with horse manure at Fortum’s Järvenpää power plant. The electricity consumption of the event is expected to be about 140 MWh, and the origin of the electricity will be verified by the Guarantee of Origin system maintained by Fingrid. Producing the energy needed for the event requires the annual manure output of 14 horses. This is the first time in the world that the electricity for a major horse show will be produced entirely with horse manure. “I am really proud that electricity produced with horse manure can be utilized for an event that is important to equestrian fans and the horse sector,” said Anssi Paalanen, vice president of Fortum HorsePower. “It is great that Finland’s biggest and best-known horse show is a forerunner in energy and environmental issues.” “It’s great to participate in electrifying the pilot event of the Fortum HorsePower concept with horse manure,” said Tom Gordin, event director. “Overall, the concept is fascinating and creates tremendous opportunities for the entire horse sector in Europe. This is also an important part of our own Horse Show Jumps Green environmental project.” Fortum HorsePower is a bedding and manure management service for stables, with the manure generated at the stables transported for use in energy production. The service has been operating in the Uusimaa region for a couple of years, and the service area is expanding all the time. In addition to the Helsinki metropolitan area, it now covers much of southern and western Finland. The Fortum HorsePower service was launched this autumn also in Sweden, where there are already close to 3,000 horses leaving green hoof prints and producing energy through the service. During the event, Fortum HorsePower will deliver wood-based bedding for the 250 or so horses that will be staying in temporary stalls. The manure-bedding mixture that is generated will be transported to Fortum’s Järvenpää power plant where it will be utilized in energy production. An estimated 135 tonnes of manure-bedding mixture will be generated during the event. The Helsinki International Horse Show will be held on October 18 to 22.
February 15, 2017, Rhodesdale, MD – Governor Larry Hogan and Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder recently toured the Murphy family’s Double Trouble Farm – the first Maryland poultry operation to install cutting-edge technology that converts poultry litter to energy. The Maryland Department of Agriculture awarded a $970,000 animal waste technology grant to Biomass Heating Solutions, Inc. (BHSL) for the manure-to-energy project and an additional $139,000 to monitor its operation for one year. “I am proud to recognize the Murphy family for bringing this innovative technology to Maryland,” said Governor Hogan. “I commend the Murphy’s and the entire Double Trouble Farm team for leading the way for farmers to improve water quality, increase energy independence, and improve animal waste management to ensure the sustainability of animal agriculture in our state.” Maryland’s Animal Waste Technology Fund is a grant program that provides seed funding to companies that demonstrate innovative technologies to manage or repurpose manure resources. These technologies generate energy from animal manure, reduce on-farm waste streams, and repurpose manure by creating marketable fertilizer and other products and by-products. To date, the program has approved $3.7 million in grants to six projects. “Biomass Heating Solutions, Inc, with the support of Mountaire, has adapted innovative manure management technology to benefit the poultry industry and the Murphy family’s farm. The system utilizes poultry litter as a feedstock by converting it to energy to heat the farm’s chicken houses and generate electricity,” said Secretary Bartenfelder. “A great deal of credit goes to the Murphy family for taking the time and risk involved in being the test case for a promising new way of doing business.” This project has the following benefits: Reduced environmental impact: A reduction in the potential environmental impact of manure resources Lower energy costs: A reduction in energy costs through using heat from the manure as a source for heating poultry houses Improved animal welfare: Improved animal welfare, with improved health and reduced risk of diseases Improved performance: Faster growth – poultry reaching target weight more quickly Additional revenue: Potential expansion of revenue streams – earnings from the sale of excess electricity and a fertilizer by-product “I am excited that a unique piece of technology designed in Ireland is going to transform U.S. poultry production and play a crucial role in reducing the environmental impact of the industry on the Chesapeake Bay,” said Denis Brosnan, chairman of Biomass Heating Solutions, Inc. “I hope this pilot project is the start of a broader initiative to turn poultry manure from a potential pollutant into a valuable source of energy.” Biomass Heating Solutions, Inc. will use electricity generating technology (fluidized bed combustion) to process poultry litter into energy for heating two of four poultry houses during the demonstration period. The system is projected to generate 526 megawatts of electricity per year. Adding heat to poultry houses has been proven at other sites to improve the flock growth rate and overall bird health. These benefits will enhance potential profit margins, reduce payback period for the technology, and improve the likelihood of transferability to other poultry operations. The Murphys are working with BHSL to explore markets for the high-phosphorus ash by-product including Maryland fertilizer companies. As a result of energy production and marketing the ash, 90 percent of nutrients in the poultry litter produced by 14 poultry houses will have alternative uses. “Mountaire is excited about the potential that new alternative use technologies for litter bring to the poultry industry,” said Bill Massey, Mountaire director of housing and feed milling. “We will continue to work with the Murphys, MDA and BHSL on this manure to energy project. Our company and our industry continue to look for solutions to be good environmental stewards.”
  Aug. 27, 2015, Herefordshire, UK – Cargill’s European poultry business has signed a 20-year agreement to convert poultry manure to energy with technology from BHSL.
July 29, 2014, Baltimore, MD – The project seemed simple enough — build a waste-to-energy plant on the Eastern Shore fueled by poultry manure, keeping it from flushing into and polluting the bay, while creating green jobs and boosting Maryland’s fledgling renewable energy industry But 18 months after being heralded by Gov. Martin O'Malley, the $75 million project has been stymied after prospective sites and a potential partnership fell through. Now state officials are weighing giving Green Planet Power Solutions, the California-based company chosen to build the 13.4-megawatt plant, a nearly $35 million subsidy on top of what the state previously agreed to pay for its power. READ MORE
October 24, 2013, Annapolis, MD – An Annapolis firm sees a money-making opportunity in household garbage and chicken waste.Energy3 LLC is trying to interest Maryland municipalities in a procedure to gasify curbside garbage — and chicken manure — and then turn it into electricity. The power generated can be sold back to the grid and create another revenue stream for communities. READ MORE
October 2, 2013 – Waste from dairy farms and beer breweries could provide the necessary ingredients to grow algae-based biofuels, leaders of a project designed to research this technology said recently.Matt Cota, executive director of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association, announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the association a $51,000 grant to research biofuel technology using algae during a news conference at the Nordic Dairy Farm in Charlotte. READ MORE
November 13, 2017, Madison, WI – Dane County plans to stop making electricity with natural gas extracted from heaps of garbage and manure so that it can sell the gas through an interstate pipeline for use as environmentally-friendly automobile fuel. The $23.5 million project at the county landfill would be the first of its kind in the state. READ MORE
October 20, 2017, Portland, OR - At its recent annual conference, the American Biogas Council (ABC) announced the winners of the Biogas Industry Awards, presented at a sold out dinner celebration at BIOCYCLE REFOR17. The winners included four biogas systems, one innovation and one individual all recognized for their contributions to the growth of the U.S. biogas industry. In addition, 12 projects received the ABC's longevity award, an earned by biogas systems which have been continuously operating for more than five or ten years. The award ceremony followed the announcement of 12 projects and innovations which made the ABC's shortlist, the finalists for the Biogas Industry Awards – all laudable in their own right. "Our award this year recognize projects that are great examples for future projects a great new tool for finding nutrient recovery technologies and a champion for the biogas industry," said Patrick Serfass, ABC executive director. "We are so proud to be awarding these shining stars of the industry." Biogas systems turn organic material into soil amendments and gaseous fuel by using anaerobic digestion, a natural, biological process in a sealed tank. There are more than 2,200 operational biogas systems in the U.S. today with the potential for more than 13,500 new systems to be built. Project of the Year Monogram Clean Energy Plant | Martinsville, VA Monogram Foods operates a production plant in Martinsville, Virginia, that produces beef jerky and other meat snacks. In 2016, to support the expansion of its production plant and address waste treatment needs, Monogram initiated construction on a new Clean Energy Plant (CEP) that principally uses an Anaerobic Digester (AD) to treat its wastes. The CEP was completed in June 2017. It was conceived by Monogram staff, its engineers, and its financial representatives to address waste and wastewater treatment needs in a sustainable fashion. The biogas is used to produce both heat and power for plant operations. Pine Island Farm Digester Facility | Sheffield, MA Pine Island Farm is a large dairy farm in Sheffield, Massachusetts. To address problems of large scale farming, such as manure management, groundwater protection and odor control, Pine Island Dairy Farm installed an on-farm DVO anaerobic digester. The AD system generates electric power and heat. The electric power is being used at the farm and net metered to other commercial consumers. Waste heat is reclaimed from the gen-set and utilized to heat the digester and other areas of the dairy operation. Digestate reuse has eliminated the need for the farm to buy bedding and the nutrients in the liquid are increasing crop yields while decreasing the need to invest in herbicides to combat weed seeds. Reinford Farms Anaerobic Digester | Mifflintown, PA Reinford Farm hired RCM, now part of Martin Construction, to reduce odor and better manage the manure supply on their 750-head dairy. The system was over-sized intentionally to prepare for a herd expansion, but shortly after startup, the farm decided to use the excess capacity to co-digest food waste with the manure. The farm is utilizing the full potential of the digester system by not only producing and selling electricity but utilizing waste heat to operate a grain dryer and heat several farm buildings including their home. The digestate solids are used for bedding and the liquid is used for fertilizer. Synergy Biogas | Covington, NY In 2011, CH4 Biogas built a 400 ton/day mixed waste biogas facility at Synergy Dairy in New York. The facility digests manure from about 2,000 milking cows with food-grade organic waste. Biogas from the digester fuels a 1426 kWh generator. In addition, the facility produces about 16,000 yd3/yr bedding for the dairy, 30 million gallons liquid fertilizer for land application and 8000 tons CO2 emission reduction credits. The project was originally built as a full-scale demonstration project meant to showcase advanced European AD technology that maximizes energy output. Facility performance was evaluated by Cornell University, which found it to be the most efficient digester in NY. Friend of the ABC Dr. David Babson Throughout the most recent parts of his career at the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the US Department of Energy, and now the US Department of Agriculture, David Babson has been a tireless advocate for anaerobic digester-produced biogas in the EPA Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), guiding ABC members through the maze of RFS terms, RIN calculations and more. He regularly helps to educate and guide industry through conferences and events, and one on one guidance related to a number of biogas related topics in the federal government.    Innovation of the Year Newtrient LLC Technology Catalog In March of this year, Newtrient launched an open-source, technology catalog that provides a comprehensive analysis of relevant dairy manure-management technologies in the United States. To help industry, especially dairies, choose the manure-management solution that might best work at their site, the Newtrient Technology Catalog provides a reliable, third-party technology evaluation tool covering over 180 technologies related to biogas production or digestate management. Longevity Awards Biogas systems that have been continuously operating for 10+ years: Castelanelli Bros Dairy Digester Schrack Farms Anaerobic Digester Biogas systems that have been continuously operating for 5+ years: BioTown Ag  Dairy Dreams Double A Dairy  DuBois Energy Flint Biogas Plant  Kane's Cow Power Monument Farms  Pine Island Farm Digester Reinford Farms  Synergy Biogas
September 21, 2017, Portland, OR – U.S.-based private investment fund Climate Trust Capital has reached agreement on its first carbon investment in the biogas sector – the West-Star North Dairy Biogas Project. More than $862,000 of Climate Trust Capital’s Fund I was invested in a covered lagoon digester that will destroy methane and produce carbon offsets under California’s cap and trade system. Fund I was launched in October 2016, seeded by a $5.5 million investment from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and supported by a Conservation Innovation Grant from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “This has been an exciting year, with marked progress toward the deployment of the $5.5 million that makes up Climate Trust Capital’s Fund I,” said Sean Penrith, executive director for The Climate Trust. “We have officially made investments in each of our three preferred sectors – forestry, grassland conservation, and livestock digesters – and are pleased to see our investment strategy come to fruition with high-caliber partner, California Bioenergy.” The investment is based on the anticipated 10-year value of carbon credits from a livestock digester project located at West-Star North Dairy, a 1,500-acre farm in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Project partner, California Bioenergy LLC (CalBio), has built three other dairy digester projects, including the state’s largest, with many more scheduled for development. This project investment is expected to begin generating carbon offsets in January 2018 with initial cash flow from the sale of these offsets in 2019. “Realizing the potential cash flow from the future sale of a dairy digester’s environmental attributes is a complex process involving a high level of project expertise, careful monitoring, and the management of regulatory and market risk,” said Ross Buckenham, CEO for California Bioenergy. “The Climate Trust is a sophisticated carbon investor and together we are able to harness the value of these environmental benefits. The Climate Trust’s willingness to invest in a significant portion of the future attributes further reduces risks to the famer and project. We are grateful for their support as well as the support of the California Energy Commission and the California Department of Food and Agriculture.” Farms have historically flushed their manure into uncovered lagoons, which generate methane and release it to the atmosphere. The West-Star North digester will treat the manure by installing CalBio’s patented dairy digester design – excavating two new lagoons in the process – and then covering the lagoons with a flexible, high-density polyethylene cover. Captured methane will be stored and then combusted in a high-efficiency generator that delivers renewable electricity to Pacific Gas and Electric. In addition, the digester will be double lined and enhance ground-water protection. Effluent from the digester will be used to irrigate fields and will also be part of a USDA drip irrigation study. “Digester projects offer a host of beneficial revenue streams, from improving the economic and environmental performance of dairies, to clean energy, scheduled electricity delivery, improved soil nutrient management, and diverting waste from landfills,” said Peter Weisberg, senior portfolio manager for The Climate Trust.
September 21, 2017 – Join AgSTAR at the BioCycle REFOR17 conference and attend the program’s “States Advance Digester Development” session. During the session – being held from 4:15 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 17 – participants will explore state policies and incentives that support and advance anaerobic digestion (AD). Speakers will include: Alex DePillis, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets - Anaerobic Digestion Policies in Northeast States Jenny Lester Moffitt, California Department of Food and Agriculture - Policies and Incentives to Advance AD in California Daniel Avery, Oregon Department of Energy - Oregon Inventory of Biogas and Renewable Natural Gas Resources Jim Jenson, Washington State University - Biomethane Roadmap for Washington State Speaker presentations will be followed by a moderated panel discussion examining: State-level goals and how states are achieving them Successes and setbacks related to AD policies Challenges facing the potential expansion of digesters Potential opportunities in the AD market BioCycle REFOR17 is being held October 16 to 19, 2017 in Portland, Oregon, at the Red Lion Hotel on the River. This national biogas conference offers hands-on information and tools to position companies or organizations for success in AD, biogas markets, composting, manure, food waste, and renewable fuels. The event will feature plenary and technical sessions, an exhibit hall, a site tour, and workshops. View the BioCycle REFOR17 website for more information.
September 20, 2017, Deerfield, MA – A loud humming, two flares more than a dozen feet off the ground and a pair of rubber bladder domes, fully inflated, are a sure sign that the methane digester is running smoothly at Bar-Way Farm, where the sign along Mill River Road boasts its “Farm Powered” system is at work churning and burning manure and food waste into energy. But the fact that those flares have been a constant since the $5 million system went online at the beginning of March is also a sign that nearly all of the power produced by the 1-megawatt generator every day is wasted. Eversource, according to farmer Peter Melnick, has failed to meet several promised dates for hooking up the methane-burning generator to the electric grid. READ MORE
September 20, 2017, Australia – A family-owned piggery in northern Victoria is about to unplug from the grid and rely on a $1 million biogas system for all its power. The biogas system is expected to save the business operators at Yarrawalla hundreds of thousands of dollars. READ MORE
 The pilot system at Scott Brothers’ converts about 88 percent of the dairy’s gasified manure into biochar and other products Sustainability in farming is a phrase that’s used a lot these days. In its simplest form, it’s about continual operation with minimal impact on the environment. At Scott Brothers’ Dairy Farms in Moreno Valley, Calif., sustainability has reached a never-before-achieved level, one that’s attracting attention from around the globe. Manure plays a central role in the farm’s ‘Circle of Energy’ concept: the 1,100-strong herd eats high-quality feed produced from the farm’s 700 acres, harvested with machinery powered by a no-sulfur diesel fuel derived from the cows’ manure. If that wasn’t impressive enough, the system also produces irrigation water, potable water, fertilizer, high-value wax, sulfur and valuable nutrients, which, according to Steve McCorkle, enables these and future farmers to truly control their own destinies. McCorkle is the CEO of Ag Waste Solutions (AWS) of Westlake Village, Calif., the designer and installer of the system at Scott Brothers. He got the idea of making diesel from manure during years travelling the globe working in the energy sector. “It appeared to me that farmers all over the world seemed to share two very strong, common goals: a desire to be the best possible stewards of their land, and a desire to be as independent as possible,” he says. At the same time, when McCorkle was working in remote deserts in the Middle East with no infrastructure for hundreds of miles, he and his colleagues had to convert waste gases into electricity and recycle wastewater. “I realized that if we could economically convert wastes into diesel fuel, we could literally fuel our own petroleum exploration – and also achieve what farmers wanted, to be much more independent of the world outside their farms,” he says. It seemed to him that there were two main factors that would make small-scale on-farm diesel production viable. One was modular and portable refining equipment, and, the second, a waste feedstock with a consistent chemical composition to make pre-conditioning less costly. With manure fitting the feedstock bill, McCorkle began in 2006 to work on the refining technology. By 2012, he was collaborating with the Scott brothers, who were looking hard at that point for solutions to deal with new groundwater and watershed salt load regulations – and an impending ban on applying manure to forage crops to boot. With some funding help from the California Energy Commission (CEC), the current pilot system was up and running at Scott Brothers by April 2015.   How it worksThe system first removes almost all suspended solids and 40 percent of dissolved solids from the dairy’s liquid manure. Some of the extracted water is further purified to make it potable (and therefore satisfy manure application requirements specific to a regional state regulatory agency). The solids go into a pyrolysis gasifier and the resulting syngas is purified. Using the well-proven 90-year-old Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process, the hydrogen and carbon in the gas is converted to completely sulfur-free renewable diesel products. A refined wax (worth up to three times the price of diesel) can be processed further and/or blended with fuels such as kerosene – a significant additional farm revenue stream. AWS can also recover elemental sulfur and other nutrients from the process for either sale or re-use on farm. Challenges along the wayAs might be imagined, significant hurdles presented themselves during the years of AWS tech development, with conventional thinking and regulations topping the list. “Operating permits are very difficult to obtain when the technology is new,” McCorkle explains. “Grants and incentives are generally available for new concepts and commercially-proven systems, but it’s not easy for ‘in-between’ tech concepts like what we’ve developed, using new enhancements to make the FT process economically viable on a small-scale, to gain financial support.” When it was time to install at Scott Brothers, more permit and funding issues came up. “We were not allowed to even move the AWS equipment to the farm until the ‘lead permit’ was secured (South Coast Air Quality Management District, SCAQMD),” McCorkle remembers. “Although AWS had obtained one of these permits at another farm site previously, and paid to expedite the Scott Brothers’ permit applications, it took a long time to obtain. We finally received help from the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.” The CEC grant required that the project obtain an exemption from CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act), and the only way to do that was to build a temporary structure to shelter the AWS equipment. “This is a large fabric-covered structure that we anchored to the ground with standard shipping containers,” explains McCorkle. “The county stipulated that we needed to supply engineering drawings of the entire facility, including the stresses that the shipping containers would encounter. We had to hire an engineer to design modifications to address the wind and other transverse forces the shipping containers would encounter on the farm.” Taking the long view, AWS made sure its system exceeds the most stringent California regulations. “Scott Brothers convinced us that if we could meet and exceed these requirements, we could then meet and exceed any standards across the globe,” says McCorkle. “An example of this would be the Zero Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) mandate and salt loading restrictions in the watershed. We are proving that we can meet these tough requirements through technology alone, as we have done at Scott Brothers, by removing all of the salts and TDS from the water and producing a potable water discharge. Once that has been recognized, we may be able to prove that we can add certain amounts of TDS into the soil in the form of biochar.” McCorkle adds the AWS biochar combines the two key elements of healthy soil amendments, carbon and micronutrients, into one product, with the same content as raw manure but without the potential surface and groundwater issues. This is why he decided to concentrate the gasification efforts on producing a nutrient-rich biochar product, and capitalize on that before other manure gasifiers could get permitted in California to produce it. Currently, the pilot system at Scott Brothers converts about 12 percent of the dairy’s gasified manure to diesel fuel per day, and about 88 percent into biochar and other products. To be a commercially viable, 24-7 operation and complete the ‘Circle of Energy,’ the liquid fuels production module will have to be upsized. “We are now applying for a Phase II CEC grant to accomplish this,” says McCorkle. “We will then go to market with our new gasifier design, starting with biochar systems on farms to help farmers meet their permit requirements while selling and/or stockpiling biochar as a feedstock for future FT biofuel production at central plants. Biochar is an excellent feedstock for FT biofuel production that does not have a shelf life.”   In reflecting on the entire process, McCorkle has nothing but praise for Scott Brothers, which he describes as “an outstanding partner in overcoming the numerous challenges.” And while it was onerous, he believes the process of helping regulators understand the advantages of the AWS concept was very worthwhile because of the new standards and regulations that are being created. “Although this approach can be very time consuming and costly,” he notes, “we believe that working directly with regulators and stakeholders is ultimately the best way to have the AWS solution become standard for creating future profit centres from manure.” McCorkle strongly believes that creating viable profit centers from manure will have the highest impact towards making livestock operations more sustainable. “Once the AWS ‘Circle of Energy’ concept is working well on individual livestock farms, the circle will grow to include other farms and organic biomass feedstocks in the community, thereby reducing the carbon footprint of the entire community,” he says. “This will raise the resulting carbon credits and funding opportunities for sustainable solutions that will improve the agricultural economy as well as the environment. Many such community opportunities exist world-wide, and the AWS solution can be scaled and tailored to meet the needs of any community.” Biochar and water from food waste digestersAWS is also working to accept materials for its systems from anaerobic digesters that process food and other organic waste. In late July, AWS signed an agreement to perform a series of controlled greenhouse vegetable trials using biochar and fertigation water from an AWS system processing ‘food waste anaerobic digestate,’ in addition to biochar and fertigation water processed from manure. McCorkle says this is very exciting because anaerobic digestate is usually considered a waste that is increasingly difficult to permit for land application in its raw form, but value-added biochar and fertigation water can be readily permitted.      
September 1, 2015, Wicomico County, MD – Wicomico County will be the site of Maryland’s biggest attempt yet to find alternative uses for the Eastern Shore’s overabundance of poultry litter, state agricultural officials say. Renewable Oil International, an Alabama company, has received a $1.2 million state grant to test technology it says can reduce the volume of manure by 50 to 63 percent. The grant comes from the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Animal Waste Technology Fund. READ MORE
April 22, 2015 - Scientists at the U.S-based company Battelle recently succeeded at the United States Department of Energy (DOE) challenge of making commercially viable transportation fuels from biomass pyrolysis. The team demonstrated the durability of a continuous hydrotreatment process that converts bio oil from biomass pyrolysis into transportation and aviation fuels. The DOE's specific challenge was to demonstrate at least 1,000 hours of bio oil hydrotreatment on a single catalyst charge, while producing a fuel product suitable as a transportation fuel-blend stock at commercially realistic yield. Longevity of hydrotreatment catalysts has long been the Achilles' heel for converting biomass pyrolysis oils to biofuels. Battelle, with its proprietary process and the help of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), was able to overcome and surpass this hurdle relatively quickly, and now has successfully registered more than 1,200 hours on its hydrotreatment catalysts. Scientists and engineers have set their sights on achieving the commercial standard of 4,000 hours in the near future. Zia Abdullah, Institute Fellow at Battelle, was the principal investigator on the project. "I am grateful to the DOE for their partnership in this effort and to Battelle's leadership for their ongoing commitment," says Abdullah. Marathon Petroleum Corporation provided Battelle with some support in the DOE and helped in assessing the biofuel product. Scientists at PNNL developed bio oil stabilization catalysts for Battelle's process. John Holladay, manager of the biomass sector at PNNL, agrees. "This is how public-private partnerships are supposed to work and it couldn't have happened without DOE's support," he says. Battelle's leadership is committed to biofuels but see the best near term market opportunities in biochemicals. "Biochemicals to enable biofuels," notes Drew Bond, vice president for technology commercialization for Battelle's energy, health and environment business. "Simply put, that's our strategy. And we're not alone in this but I can say that we are quite far along thanks to the foresight of our leadership." Since 2011, Marty Toomajian, president of Battelle's energy, health and environment business, has led Battelle's efforts to commercialize a distributed pyrolysis system for bio oil production. "Energy security is all about energy supply diversity," he says. "We have tremendous fossil reserves in our country that should not be taken for granted. But neither should we take our renewable resources for granted. That's why our work at Battelle spans across both, with the goal to maximize our fossil and renewable resources, which aligns with the President's "all the above" strategy in the energy sector." Battelle has also made significant progress towards commercializing its modular pyrolysis systems. It already has scaled up its proprietary technology from concept to a pilot system that processes more than one ton of biomass per day.  It was Battelle's ton-per-day pilot system that supplied the bio oil for its DOE-funded hydrotreating project. Adding to the achievements and near-term commercial focus, late last year Battelle entered into a strategic partnership with Equinox Chemicals, a specialty chemical manufacturer. Together, they seek to use the platform pyrolysis technology for the production of biopolyols and biochemicals with applications in multiple, rapidly growing, high-value markets.
ARS scientists at Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, are developing this mobile pyrolysis processing system that may one day be used on farms to produce bio-oil. Photo by Charles Mullen. April 17, 2014 - Innovations at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are bringing researchers one step closer to developing "green" biofuel production systems farmers can use to meet on-farm energy needs, or to produce renewable fuels for commercial markets. These findings by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists Charles Mullen and Akwasi Boateng promote the USDA priority of finding new bioenergy sources. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency. Fast pyrolysis is the process of rapidly heating biomass from wood, plants and other carbon-based materials at high temperatures without oxygen. Using pyrolysis to break down tough feedstocks produces three things: biochar, a gas, and bio-oils that are refined to make "green" gasoline. The bio-oils are high in oxygen, making them acidic and unstable, but the oxygen can be removed by adding catalysts during pyrolysis. Although this adds to production costs and complicates the process, the resulting bio-oil is more suitable for use in existing energy infrastructure systems as a "drop-in" transportation fuel that can be used as a substitute for conventional fuels. In 2013, the ARS team filed a patent application for a new pyrolysis process called Tail Gas Reactive Pyrolysis (TGRP), which removes much of the oxygen from bio-oils without the need for added catalysts. The team conducted a pilot-scale study using three types of biofeedstock with different characteristics: oak, switchgrass, and pressed pennycress seeds. The researchers modified the standard pyrolysis process by gradually replacing nitrogen gas in the processing chamber with the gases produced during pyrolysis. The TGRP process was very effective in lowering oxygen levels and acidity, and no additional catalysts were needed. Bio-oils produced from oak and switchgrass by the new process had considerably higher energy content than those produced by conventional fast pyrolysis. The energy content of the oak bio-oil was 33.3 percent higher and contained about two-thirds of the energy contained in gasoline. The energy content for switchgrass was 42 percent higher, slightly less than three-fourths of the energy content of gasoline. The scientists, who work at the ARS Eastern Regional Research Center in Wyndmoor, Pa., published results from their research in 2013 in Energy Fuels. Read more about this research in the April 2014 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
Dec. 17, 2012 - New research from North Carolina State University provides molecular-level insights into how cellulose – the most common organic compound on Earth and the main structural component of plant cell walls – breaks down in wood to create "bio-oils" which can be refined into any number of useful products, including liquid transportation fuels to power a car or an airplane. Using a supercomputer that can perform functions thousands of times faster than a standard desktop computer, NC State chemical and biomolecular engineer Dr. Phillip Westmoreland and doctoral student Vikram Seshadri calculate what's occurring at the molecular level when wood is rapidly heated to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen, a decomposition process known as pyrolysis. The results, which could help spur more effective and efficient ways of converting farmed and waste wood into useful bio-oils, appear in a feature article on the cover of the Dec. 13 print edition of the Journal of Physical Chemistry A. Much of the energy that can be extracted from wood exists in the cellulose found in cell walls. Cellulose is a stiff, rodlike substance consisting of chains of a specific type of a simple sugar called glucose. The paper describes a mechanism for how glucose decomposes when heated. The mechanism is somewhat surprising, Westmoreland says, because it reveals how water molecules and even the glucose itself can trigger this decomposition. "The calculations in the paper show that although the decomposition products and rates differ in glucose and cellulose, the various elementary steps appear to be the same, but altered in their relative importance to each other," Westmoreland says. Knowing the specifics of the decomposition process will allow researchers to make predictions about the ease of extracting energy from different types of wood from various soil types. The researchers are now conducting experiments to verify their calculations.
Because the United States is the world’s largest producer and exporter of poultry meat and second largest egg producer, there can be little doubt that managing poultry litter is no yolk.
May 30, 2017, U.S. - A pair of federal efforts could make it more profitable to turn organic waste from agriculture and other sources into energy by taking advantage of the Renewable Fuel Standard.One is a bill recently introduced in the U.S. Senate that would create a 30 percent investment tax credit for qualifying biogas and nutrient-recovery systems. That would put renewable compressed natural gas on a similar footing with solar and wind energy.A separate approach, currently before the Environmental Protection Agency, aims to create a pathway that would pay biogas producers for providing power for electric vehicles.An energy consultant from Des Moines is one of several people in the U.S. trying to devise a record-keeping system that ultimately would pay biogas producers much more than they now earn for generating electricity. READ MORE
May 8, 2017, Nigeria, Africa - Chicken is a favorite, inexpensive meat across the globe. But the bird's popularity results in a lot of waste that can pollute soil and water.One strategy for dealing with poultry poop is to turn it into biofuel, and now scientists have developed a way to do this by mixing the waste with another environmental scourge, an invasive weed that is affecting agriculture in Africa. They report their approach in ACS' journal Energy & Fuels. Poultry sludge is sometimes turned into fertilizer, but recent trends in industrialized chicken farming have led to an increase in waste mismanagement and negative environmental impacts, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.Droppings can contain nutrients, hormones, antibiotics and heavy metals and can wash into the soil and surface water. To deal with this problem, scientists have been working on ways to convert the waste into fuel. But alone, poultry droppings don't transform well into biogas, so it's mixed with plant materials such as switch grass.Samuel O. Dahunsi, Solomon U. Oranusi and colleagues wanted to see if they could combine the chicken waste with Tithonia diversifolia (Mexican sunflower), which was introduced to Africa as an ornamental plant decades ago and has become a major weed threatening agricultural production on the continent.The researchers developed a process to pre-treat chicken droppings, and then have anaerobic microbes digest the waste and Mexican sunflowers together. Eight kilograms of poultry waste and sunflowers produced more than 3 kg of biogas — more than enough fuel to drive the reaction and have some leftover for other uses such as powering a generator. Also, the researchers say that the residual solids from the process could be applied as fertilizer or soil conditioner.The authors acknowledge funding from Landmark University. 
April 25, 2017, Lincoln, NE – For a team of University of Nebraska-Lincoln chemical and biomolecular engineering students, biogas refining isn't just a senior design capstone project, it's a potential means of supplying Nebraska's rural communities with a renewable source of energy that comes from resources that are both local and plentiful.Tasked with helping Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) turn biogas into a more-refined form of natural gas, the team of Meryl Bloomfield, Heather Newell, K.J. Hafer and Dave Hansen saw that the state was among the nation's leaders in not only cattle population but in manure production.Using an anaerobic digestion process, the team proposes turning that manure not only into fertilizer for crops but natural gas that NPPD could also use to create electricity that powers farms and rural communities across the state."Compared to other renewable energy sources – like wind and solar – biogas is more consistent," said Bloomfield. "Cows are always going to produce manure. You don't have to rely on having a sunny day or a windy day, especially In Nebraska, where wind and solar plants might not be as reliable as in Arizona and California."According to The Cattle Network, Nebraska ranked second nationally in 2015 with approximately 6.3 million cattle or about seven percent of the U.S. population. One of the biggest uses of the manure produced by the cattle is the production of fertilizer.The student team worked to develop a method that would allow the production of natural gas and still maintain a viable supply for fertilizer production. But that led to it expanding on its goal by proposing a solution that could be an economic boost to the rural community – a biogas upgrade refinery that would be strategically located near Broken Bow.The refined natural gas from the Nebraska Biogas Upgrading Refinery would then be piped to NPPD's Canaday Station southeast of Lexington, where it could be used to create electricity."It would be centralized to where the cows are," Hansen said. "After designing the plant, we determined we'd need about a quarter of a million head of cattle to achieve the manure supply sufficient to reach the capacity NPPD is looking for.The natural gas that would be similar to the gas used in homes across the country, Hansen said, except it would be collected as part of a natural process rather than relying on traditional means of extracting the gas – such as fracking or refining fossil fuels.Newell also said the process would be more beneficial to the ecology."In doing this, we're reducing greenhouse gases from the cow manure that sits out and naturally becomes fertilizer," Newell said. "We're reducing the carbon dioxide and creating something useful from it."Though their proposal isn't guaranteed to be implemented, Bloomfield said thinking about the human impact made this senior capstone experience valuable for the entire team."Knowing that it could be even a stepping stone to something for NPPD changed how we approached it," Bloomfield said. "When you're thinking theoretically, you can go a lot of different directions. When you're thinking about how it affects people and their lives, that's when it gets real."
December 18, 2015 – In support of the Obama Administration's Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) jointly released the Biogas Opportunities Roadmap Progress Report, updating the federal government's progress to reduce methane emissions through biogas systems since the Biogas Opportunities Roadmap was completed by the three agencies in July 2014. The report highlights actions taken, outlines challenges and opportunities, and identifies next steps to the growth of a robust biogas industry. Biogas is part of the White House's strategy to reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas with more than 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide and valuable source of energy. In the Climate Action Plan, President Obama directed the Administration to develop a comprehensive, interagency strategy to reduce methane emissions. In March 2014, the White House released the Climate Action Plan - Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions. As part of the strategy, DOE, EPA, and USDA committed to work with industry leaders to formulate a biogas roadmap in order to encourage cost-effective strategies for voluntary reductions. The 2014 roadmap identified more than 2,000 sites across the United States that produce biogas, as well as the potential for an additional 11,000 biogas systems. If this potential is reached by 2030, biogas systems could produce enough energy to power more than 3 million American homes while reducing the methane emissions by an amount equivalent to 54 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of the greenhouse gasses from to 11 million passenger vehicles. Biogas offers American farmers, municipalities, and other stakeholders a way to reduce their waste outputs while adding another revenue stream by recovering resources with biogas systems for energy, nutrients, and other beneficial uses.Since July 2014, DOE, EPA, and USDA have made progress toward realizing these benefits. They have revised their programs and policies to further support the growth of the biogas industry, such as improving the application process for various biogas funding and financing programs and including biogas as a cellulosic advanced fuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard. The agencies have also made progress by revising existing technologies, and updating informational tools, databases, and models. The three agencies formed the Biogas Working Group to work closely with biogas stakeholders to streamline existing agency programs, strengthen markets for biogas systems, and improve interagency coordination and communication. Biogas will continue to be a key part of the federal government's long-term climate, energy, and development strategy. The Biogas Opportunities Roadmap Progress Report identifies next steps for federal agencies moving forward, which include promoting biogas utilization through existing agency programs (including $10 million in research funding), fostering investment in biogas systems, strengthening markets for biogas systems and system products, and improving communication and coordination across federal agencies and the biogas industry. Progress report in brief: http://www.rd.usda.gov/files/biogas-infographic_11.pdfFull Report: http://www.rd.usda.gov/files/Biogas-Roadmap-Progress-Report-v12.pdf
October 10, 2014 - ZooShare announced it has raised over $1 million for what is soon to be North America's 1st zoo-based biogas plant. Investors celebrated this milestone at their "Thanks A Million!" party Thursday night. "We are so grateful for the 150 investors who helped us reach one million dollars," said Daniel Bida, Executive Director, "We reached this goal in less than a year, which exceeded our expectations, proving the market demand for sustainable high-impact investments. Together, we can demonstrate the true value of organic waste."  ZooShare bonds, which are being used to build the biogas plant, pay a return of 7% each year for seven years. The bonds have the added benefit of an environmental return: the facility will recycle animal manure from the Toronto Zoo and food waste from local grocery stores into renewable power, while cleaning the air and returning valuable nutrients to the soil (in the form of a high-quality fertilizer).   "ZooShare is a green solution that we can stand behind," says investor John Wilson, holding up a jar of giraffe poo. "We want to be part of the solution," echoes his wife Denice Wilkins, "I invest in ZooShare because it gives me hope for the future." To learn more about ZooShare, visit www.zooshare.ca  
March 11, 2013, Washington, DC – The American Biogas Council (ABC) applauds the introduction of the Biogas Investment Tax Credit Act of 2013 (HR 860), which would provide a 30 percent investment tax credit (ITC) for qualifying biogas technologies. This bill would add biogas to the list of renewables that already receive a 30 percent federal investment tax credit. According to ABC executive director Patrick Serfass, projects that inject renewable natural gas into the gas pipeline or use the biogas to power vehicle fleets would benefit from the credit. “This tax credit will help a dairy farmer who makes biogas from cow manure and then uses it to heat the buildings and power the trucks that deliver the milk,” Serfass said. “Without it, the farmer may not be able to make that investment,” he continued. “Indeed, the ITC would also facilitate the conversion of food waste to biogas that can be injected into natural gas pipelines.” While biogas projects that generate electricity are eligible for a production tax credit under Section 45 of the federal tax code, currently no comparable tax incentive exists for the production of biogas when used for purposes other than electricity generation.

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