Farm manure could be a viable source of renewable energy to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo are developing technology to produce renewable natural gas from manure so it can be added to the existing energy supply system for heating homes and powering industries. That would eliminate particularly harmful gases released by naturally decomposing manure when it is spread on farm fields as fertilizer and partially replace fossil natural gas, a significant contributor to global warming.

"There are multiple ways we can benefit from this single approach," said David Simakov, a professor of chemical engineering at Waterloo. "The potential is huge."

Simakov said the technology could be viable with several kinds of manure, particularly cow and pig manure, as well as at landfill sites.

In addition to being used by industries and in homes, renewable natural gas could replace diesel fuel for trucks in the transportation sector, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

To test the concept, researchers built a computer model of an actual 2,000-head dairy farm in Ontario that collects manure and converts it into biogas in anaerobic digesters. Some of that biogas is already used to produce electricity by burning it in generators, reducing the environmental impact of manure while also yielding about 30 to 40 percent of its energy potential.

Researchers want to take those benefits a significant step further by upgrading, or converting, biogas from manure into renewable natural gas. That would involve mixing it with hydrogen, then running it through a catalytic converter. A chemical reaction in the converter would produce methane from carbon dioxide in the biogas.

Known as methanation, the process would require electricity to produce hydrogen, but that power could be generated on-site by renewable wind or solar systems, or taken from the electrical grid at times of low demand. The net result would be renewable natural gas that yields almost all of manure's energy potential and also efficiently stores electricity, but has only a fraction of the greenhouse gas impact of manure used as fertilizer.

"This is how we can make the transition from fossil-based energy to renewable energy using existing infrastructure, which is a tremendous advantage," said Simakov, who collaborates with fellow chemical engineering professor Michael Fowler.

The modelling study showed that a $5-million investment in a methanation system at the Ontario farm would, with government price subsidies for renewable natural gas, have about a five-year payback period.

A paper on modelling of a renewable natural gas generation facility at the Ontario farm, which also involved a post-doctoral researcher and several Waterloo students, was recently published in the International Journal of Energy Research.
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
This February was the celebration of a great partnership of California dairies and California Bioenergy (CalBio).
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
March 2, 2018, Wooster, OH — A rural community in northcentral Ohio is divided over plans to build a 10 million gallon waste lagoon on a farm north of Wooster.

Quasar Energy, which operates the anaerobic digester on the campus of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, plans to construct the storage pond. The earthen-lined lagoon would hold both anaerobically digested biosolids and up to 300,000 gallons of hog manure annually from the landowner’s hog farm, according to the permit application.

Supporters say it will provide a source of organic fertilizer. Opponents fear it could lead to issues with groundwater contamination, odor and traffic. READ MORE
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
February 9, 2018, Yuma, CO – An anaerobic digester plant that would covert animal waste into a usable energy source, among other things, is being planned for south of Yuma.

Sheldon Kye Energy and Harvest Operating LLC are teaming up to develop the digester. Both companies are headquartered in the metro Denver area. Brian Johnson is heading up the project for Sheldon Kye Energy, and Alan Nackerud is the Harvest Operating representative. READ MORE
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
February 8, 2018, Sacramento, CA – Renewable Dairy Fuels (RDF), a business unit of Amp Americas, recently announced that construction is underway on the country’s largest on-farm anaerobic digester-to- vehicle fuel operation.

Located in Fair Oaks, Indiana, the dairy project will be the company’s second biogas facility producing renewable natural gas from dairy waste for transportation fuel.

Amp Americas received the first dairy waste-to-vehicle fuel pathway certified by California's Air Resources Board (CARB) for its first RNG project at Fair Oaks Farms in northwest Indiana. The project was also awarded a Carbon Intensity (CI) score of -254.94 gCO2e/MJ, the lowest ever issued by CARB.

In addition to generating renewable American energy, on-farm anaerobic digester operations improve sustainability, environmental stewardship and energy independence.

The new facility will be 50 percent larger than RDF’s operation at Fair Oaks Farms and will be operational this summer. The site is located in Jasper County, IN, just a few miles from Fair Oaks Farms.

Every day, three digesters located at three dairy farms will convert 950 tons of dairy waste from 16,000 head of milking cows into 100 percent renewable transportation fuel. The RNG will then be injected into the NIPSCO pipeline.

Each of the digesters is a DVO, Inc. designed and built Mixed Plug Flow digester.

“Transportation is now the largest source of greenhouse gases in the U.S., and a major source of smog-causing pollution,” said Grant Zimmerman, CEO at Amp Americas. “It is more important than ever to drive further adoption of clean and efficient domestic RNG within the trucking industry. There isn’t enough RNG being produced to meet customer demand. Our new project will help make strong headway toward closing the supply gap.”

Amp Americas continues to expand its national footprint and to invest heavily in dairy RNG projects by partnering with dairy farmers across the country to bring more ultra-low CI gas to market. The company plans to more than double its dairy gas output by mid-2018, and aims to deliver Amp Renew, its 100 percent RNG product, to all 20 of its fueling stations as it brings on future projects.
Published in Biogas
February 5, 2018, Georgetown, DE — A Maryland company has been trying to get approval to build a new facility that would process chicken litter and convert it into energy and other agricultural byproducts.

But public opposition has already derailed plans to build the facility in Crisfield, Maryland, where the City Council denied permission at a Jan. 10 meeting. READ MORE
Published in Poultry
January 23, 2018, Portland, OR – Climate Trust Capital, a U.S.-based private investment fund, has closed on a carbon investment in the biogas sector –the Carlos Echeverria and Sons Dairy (CE&S) biogas project.

Approximately $1.12 million 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.

The investment is based on the anticipated 10-year value of carbon credits from a livestock digester project located at the Carlos Echeverria and Sons Dairy, a large farm in California’s Central Valley. Project partner, California Bioenergy LLC (CalBio), has built three other dairy digester projects, including California’s largest, with three additional projects currently coming on line and 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.

“Generating revenue from the sale of offsets through California’s cap and trade program is a complex process requiring a great deal of regulatory oversight to ensure the credits are real, additional, and permanent,” said Andrew Craig, director of greenhouse gas reduction initiatives for California Bioenergy. “We’re thankful to have partnered with some of the leading experts in the dairy digester industry, including The Climate Trust, who has been an invaluable asset to us and our dairy farmer partners.”

“The need for capital when building a livestock digester project is in strong alignment with Climate Trust Capital’s investment thesis of providing an early-stage investment to catalyze projects,” said Kristen Kleiman, director of investments for The Climate Trust. “Digesters improve the economic and environmental performance of dairies, provide clean energy, improve soil nutrient management, improve local air quality, and so much more. Quality digester projects will make up a sizeable portion of our investment portfolio, enabling the trust to keep an eye toward ensuring the best possible premiums from the sale of generated credits.”

The CE&S digester will treat the manure by covering manure 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.
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
December 20, 2017, San Francisco, CA – The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently established a new program to reduce emissions of methane, a potent short-lived climate pollutant, from manure generated at dairies.

The pilot program will incentivize at least five projects where dairy digesters capture and process the biomethane gas from manure to produce renewable natural gas.

The program was adopted pursuant to Senate Bill (SB) 1383 (Lara, 2016) which authorizes funding of the dairy biomethane pilot projects to demonstrate interconnection to the gas pipeline system. The pipeline infrastructure is needed to inject renewable natural gas (after a conditioning process) into the utilities’ natural gas distribution system, where it may be sold to customers. SB 1383 established a goal of 40 percent reduction of methane emissions statewide by 2030. Emissions from manure represent approximately 26 percent of California’s methane emissions.

“This program helps turn a waste product into renewable energy,” said Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen. “In addition to reducing emissions of methane, the pilot projects will help improve air and water quality in the Central Valley and other regions. Strong interagency coordination has allowed us to implement this in a very short timeframe.”

Under the proposal, an interagency committee that includes the CPUC, the California Air Resources Board, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture will select the pilot projects. The committee will choose projects based on an evaluation of the proposed business model, likely greenhouse gas reductions realized and cost effectiveness of achieving these reductions, environmental benefits, disadvantaged community benefits, and project readiness.
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
December 19, 2017, Port Republic, VA – Glenn Rodes was born and raised on an 860-acre turkey farm in Port Republic, VA, just south of Harrisonburg in the Shenandoah Valley. Four generations of his family live there still, raising turkeys, cattle and row crops. With the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance; some of the trees look as old as the state itself.

But while Riverhill Farms may seem unchanged by time, Rodes and his family are looking to the future. They have been experimenting with turning manure into energy for several years. Rodes even calls himself a “fuel farmer” in his email address. READ MORE
Published in Poultry
December 18, 2017, Sacramento, CA – The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is now accepting applications for the Dairy Digester Research and Development Program (DDRDP).

The program, which is funded through California Climate Investment dollars, provides financial assistance for the installation of dairy digesters in California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Reducing methane emissions is a critical component in the state’s efforts to combat climate change,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “Digester technology is an excellent example of how state and private partnerships can protect the environment, reduce emissions all while also providing an economic benefit for our dairy producers.”

CDFA will allocate between $61 and $75 million for potential projects. The final sum will depend on the needs of successful grant applicants. Additional funds have been allocated to support non-digester practices that reduce methane emissions from dairy and livestock operations through the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP). Milk producers and dairy digester developers can apply for up to $3 million for projects that provide quantifiable greenhouse gas reductions.

Prospective applicants can access the “Request for Grant Applications” at for information on eligibility and program requirements.

To streamline the application process, CDFA is partnering with the State Water Resources Control Board, which hosts the Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST). All prospective applicants must register for a FAAST account at Applications and all supporting information must be submitted electronically using FAAST by Friday, January 26, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. PST.

CDFA will hold two free workshops and one webinar to provide information on program requirements and the FAAST application process. CDFA staff will be present at the workshop to provide guidance on the application process, provide application examples and answer any questions. Individuals planning to attend should email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with their contact information, number of seats required and the workshop location.

Workshop locations include:

Modesto – Wednesday, January 3, 2018
1:00 – 3:00 pm
Stanislaus County Agricultural Commissioner Office, Room HI,
3800 Cornucopia Way
Modesto, CA 95358

Tulare – Thursday, January 4, 2018
1:00 – 3:00 pm
Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner Office Conference Room
Agricultural Building
4437 S Laspina Street
Tulare, CA 93274

Webinar – Monday, January 8, 2018
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
To register for the webinar, please visit the program webpage at

Prospective applicants should refer to the DDRDP webpage ( for information on community outreach assistance coordinated by CDFA. For general program questions, contact CDFA’s Grants Office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
North Carolina is described as the heart of the “American Broiler Belt.” With the poultry industry still expanding to some extent in the state and less land being available for manure application due to population growth and urban sprawl, alternative uses for poultry litter are being urgently explored.
Published in Poultry
December 12, 2017, Benson, MN – State regulators said they are investigating the death of a worker who fell to his death at a soon-to-be-closed biomass plant in central Minnesota that supplies power to Xcel Energy.

The man fell into a hopper at the Benson Power plant, formerly known as Fibrominn, in Benson on Dec. 6, according to Minnesota's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). READ MORE
Published in Combustion
December 11, 2017, Deerfield, MA – A $5 million methane digester-power generator that went online last March is finally showing signs of being fully connected at Bar-Way Farm, nine months after the 1-megawatt generator was supposed to have been churning out electricity for the power grid.

Eversource crews were at work at the dairy farm, where farmer Peter Melnick had complained in September that the utility had failed to meet several promised dates for hooking up the methane-burning generator to the electric grid. READ MORE
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
December 5, 2017, Portland, OR — Representatives of Oregon agriculture say they are wary of a proposal to reduce the state’s carbon emissions. While farmers could attract new revenue under the system, they could also face higher costs for fuel, electricity and other inputs, they say.

Oregon lawmakers in the House and Senate are currently devising carbon emission “cap-and-invest” bills to be introduced during the 2018 legislative session. The goal is to mitigate climate change by reducing the amount of “greenhouse gases” such as carbon dioxide that gets into the atmosphere. READ MORE
Published in Other
December 1, 2017, Los Angeles, CA – Toyota plans to build a power plant in California that captures methane gas from dairy cattle manure to generate water, electricity and hydrogen.

The company announced the project Nov. 30 at the Los Angeles auto show. The Tri-Gen Project at the Port of Long Beach, Calif., will be the world’s first commercial-scale 100 percent renewable power and hydrogen generation plant. Toyota is betting heavily on fuel-cell technology, especially in Japan. READ MORE
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
November 21, 2017, Middlebury, VT – A Salisbury farm will soon be turning on-site cow manure and Addison County food waste into renewable energy that will push Middlebury College’s campus beyond its goal of carbon neutrality.

The Goodrich Farm will host a Farm Powered-brand anaerobic digester that will, on a daily basis, process 100 tons of manure from the 900-cow farm and 165 tons of organic food waste per day. READ MORE
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
Oil and gas wells and even cattle release methane gas into the atmosphere, and researchers are working on ways to not only capture this gas but also convert it into something useful and less polluting.
Published in Pyrolysis
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
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
October 5, 2017, McGregor, IA – Area residents are concerned about how a 10,000-head cattle feedlot and biogas operation, currently under construction east of Monona, IA, could impact the Bloody Run Creek Watershed.

Construction is currently underway on the 50-acre site on six open-front cattle barns, as well as a feed storage area, concrete transfer pits and an earthen liquid manure storage lagoon with a capacity of nearly 39 million gallons. Also included on the site will be four tanks for anaerobic digestion and methane production for scrubbed biogas.

The manure from the 10,000 cattle at the site will be captured and, with the help of the anaerobic digesters, combined with waste feed products to produce natural gas. READ MORE
Published in Beef
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.

Published in Combustion
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