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In the news: September-October 2011


Canadian biogas company Carbon Control Systems has teamed with German technology provider agriKomp with the aim of becoming Canada’s first turnkey anaerobic digestion system provider.

Company brings German biogas technology to North America

Canadian biogas company Carbon Control Systems has teamed with German technology provider agriKomp with the aim of becoming Canada’s first turnkey anaerobic digestion system provider.

Starting with a 135-kilowatt on-farm reference biogas plant in Millbrook, Ont., the joint venture now known as CCS-agriKomp has made it their mandate to help kick-start anaerobic digestor technology in North America.

Offering tours of the biogas plant to local farmers, CCS-agriKomp plans to not only showcase the German technology at the Millbrook build but to work toward innovative Canadian product as well.

On site, farmers are given a comprehensive overview of a complete biogas plant. Most of the feedstock comes from the 100 cows on CCS-agriKomp managing director Chris Ferguson’s 150-acre farm, corn silages and grease from nearby restaurants. The end result is enough energy to dry grain in a 180-metric-ton batch dryer, power CCS-agriKomp’s 7,600-square-foot headquarters and provide electricity to more than 50 homes.

“I want to bring the awareness to local farmers that this model works here and around the world and definitely fits into the typical agricultural system that is here and the resources that are here,” says Ferguson.

Vancouver-based Octaform Systems – a stay-in-place PVC concrete forming system used for the tanks – has allowed CCS-agriKomp to build better and faster, eliminating the need for secondary seals or treatments.

“We decided to go with Octaform because we wanted to be hands on in building the tanks,” says Ferguson. “The Octaform panels don’t require special trades to assemble and that was a huge cost savings to us.” Octaform not only provided an easy system for building the tanks, but its airtight panels also protect the concrete from the highly corrosive anaerobic digestion environment.

With more than 400 biogas plants built in the last 11 years, agriKomp’s technology is a proven source of power in Europe. Down time is costly in the biogas game and agriKomp’s systems boast operational output rates of over 95 per cent.

www.ccs-agriKomp.ca


Project update on pumping feedlot runoff in Iowa

By Kris Kohl

The Iowa State University (ISU) Beef Center is sponsoring a project to look at the costs associated with pumping the settled effluent from open feedlots. With this project, small sewage pumps are being installed to pump the runoff water to cornfields, where it will soak into the soil, preventing any runoff water from leaving the property. One of the sites is the Armstrong Research Farm, in Lewis, Ia., which has a one-acre feedlot that could hold 200 head. Currently, it has a settling basin and small secondary treatment area.

The preliminary data looks very exciting. We have spent less than $3 per head to set up a 0.5-horsepower sewage pump to pump the settled effluent onto a cornfield, preventing the runoff water from flowing down a grass waterway and into a water of the state.

Since the start of the project on April 14, we have had 25 days of rain with 13 days of runoff. The cost of pumping an acre-inch of runoff is only 35 cents at the Armstrong site. The total rainfall has been 11.51 inches; the electricity cost to pump the runoff has been just $1.70. Normal rainfall in Iowa is about 30 inches per year so we should triple the cost to just over $5. This is still less than three cents per head to prevent 90 percent of the runoff from leaving our property.

With any new project come some problems that must be overcome. The grass from the lawn mower has plugged some of our distribution holes as has the rust from the “free” steel pipe we used from the iron pile. We have had good luck pumping from lots with at least 80 square feet per head while those with less than 40 square feet have produced thick slurry that has not pumped well.

The distribution holes are on 60-inch centers so there is one wet row next to dry rows, which has helped with the distribution and has prevented damage to corn. We started with half-inch holes that plugged easily and made scour holes in the soil. We increased to three-quarter-inch holes that have increased the flow down the field to about 75 feet and are not scouring.

A field day was held this past summer at the Armstrong Research Farm to show how we can use pumps to distribute our runoff water to better use manure nutrients and protect our streams.

Kris Kohl is an agricultural engineering specialist with Iowa State University (ISU) Extension.


Three renewable energy projects announced for Northern Alberta

Slave Lake is one of three communities in northern Alberta that will benefit from renewable energy projects supported by the Climate Change and Emissions Management (CCEMC) Corporation.

Projects in High Level and Hairy Hill, near Vegreville, are also receiving funding.

Combined, the three projects are estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions  emissions by more than 2.3 megatonnes over 10 years, the equivalent of removing 46,000 cars from the road. For every dollar CCEMC invests in these three projects, about another $7.50 is also invested.

Growing Power Hairy Hill will be the world’s first large-scale carbon-neutral biofuel plant. The integrated biorefinery also includes other operations such as fertilizer manufacturing and biofuel feedstock production with systems powered by waste.

The High North RTP Project in High Level will be the world’s largest fast pyrolysis plant, converting wood waste from Tolko’s sawmill at High Level to pyrolysis oil, which generates power for a series of modified diesel engines. Waste heat will be recovered and used for drying lumber.

The Slave Lake Pulp Bio-Methanation Project will integrate an energy-efficient anaerobic digestion system into an existing effluent treatment system. The new system will treat effluent and produce biogas that will generate electricity and heat for use in the pulping process.

The CCEMC is a not-for-profit organization whose mandate is to establish or participate in funding for initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support adaptation. The CCEMC invests in discovery, development, and operational deployment of clean technologies.


Livestock manure, ag byproducts to produce biogas

A team of researchers from the Institute for Animal Science and Technology of the Universitat Politècnica de València (Spain) has developed a project that combines pig slurry and agricultural byproducts to optimize biogas production. Thus, it manages to add value to farms’ excess slurry and offers a sustainable use for some of the byproducts from the fruit and vegetable processing industry.

The project’s main researchers, María Cambra-López, Verónica Moset and Pablo Ferrer, are agronomists co-ordinated by Prof. Antonio Torres.

Pig farms generate large amounts of slurry, consisting mainly of animal excreta, cleaning water and feed residues, the management of which normally consists of storing it in pools and then using it as fertilizer in agricultural fields.

However, because of the manure’s properties, rich in nutrients – such as nitrogen and phosphorus – and organic matter, it can cause pollution to soil, water and atmosphere as a result of excessive accumulation of these nutrients in soil and water and the emissions of greenhouse gases and ammonia.

In areas such as the north of Castellón and inland Valencia, where there is a high concentration of pig production, there is not enough agricultural land to absorb the large volume of slurry produced on local farms. The transport of this slurry to other areas involves extra costs  – because of its high water content – that farmers are not willing to accept, says María Cambra-López.

Therefore, the Spanish researchers have studied the combined processing of pig slurry and agricultural byproducts to produce biogas, in order to provide a sustainable use for these products. This combination can avoid undesirable environmental side-effects and the project offers to turn pig slurry into a valuable product: energy.

Slurry on its own does not produce much energy, explains Verónica Moset, and therefore a biogas plant is not a profitable business for farmers. However, if farmers combine slurry with certain fruit and vegetables from the region that are not good enough to sell, the methane level can be increased and produce biogas cost-effectively.

So far, researchers have tested in vitro the combination of pig slurry with peppers, tomatoes, peaches and kaki to study their potential to produce biogas and the optimal combination of both substrates. The engineers found that peppers increased methane production by 44 percent compared with slurry-only; tomatoes, by 41 percent; and peaches, by 28 percent. They did not observe any difference in methane production using kaki.

With this encouraging data, Pablo Ferrer says they will carry out trials in large-scale digesters and simulate real biogas production processes using peppers, tomatoes and peaches. The researchers believe that in another year, they will be able to offer results and could transfer the technology to real-scale centralized biogas plants.

The researchers are also working closely with the Centre for Animal Research and Technology of the Valencian Institute for Agricultural Research (IVIA) to evaluate the effect of adding agricultural byproducts such as rapeseed oil, orange pulp or rice husk in pig feed, on methane emissions from manure, which could also increase biogas production.