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Considering an Anaerobic Digester?
Steps to Take and Contacts to Make
Jeannie A. Leggett, Extension Assistant in Agricultural and Biological Engineering Robert E. Graves, Professor of Agricultural Engineering
naerobic digestion of animal manure results in Abiogas and a liquefied, low-odor effluent
(processed manure). In certain situations, it can be a cost effective, environment- and neighborhood-friendly treatment for manure and liquid waste. However, an anaerobic digestion system requires a rather large financial investment as well as a large management responsibility. Anaerobic digesters are custom designed and built for your farm needs. They should be designed by an experienced designer who has already worked through the common problems associated with anaerobic digestion. Currently, biogas production is best suited for farms that handle large amounts of slurry manure with little or no bedding. A common rule of thumb for economical operation of an anaerobic digester is manure from a minimum of 200 dairy cows or an equivalent amount of swine or poultry manure.
1. Do your homework—read background information on biogas
b. On-Farm Biogas production—NRAES-20 and Anaerobic Digesters for Dairy Farms—Extension Bulletin 458 are available from the Northeast Regional Agricultural Engineering Service, 154 Riley-Robb Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, phone (607) 255-7654 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
c. Methane from Animal Manures: A Current Opportunities Casebook can be obtained by writing or calling:
Phil Lusk, Consultant
National Renewable Energy Laboratory 409 12th Street, SW, Suite 710 Washington, DC 20024-2125
phone (202) 651-7538
fax (202) 651-7501
2. Seek preliminary technical assistance
Several organizations can help determine if anaerobic digestion is suitable and economically feasible for your farm.
AgSTAR is a federally-funded program to promote the economical use of anaerobic digestion systems to reduce farm methane emissions. AgSTAR provides digestion system vendor information, helps farmers identify loans and financing for biogas systems, and can analyze the economics of a farm biogas system. They can be reached by calling 1-800-95AgSTAR.
Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)
Contact NRCS to perform an initial digestion system analysis for your operation. They should be able to estimate the size of a digester and engine generator as well as the expected costs and benefits of an anaerobic digestion system on your farm.
a. Anaerobic Digestion: Biogas Production and Odor Reduction From Manure—G77, fact sheet available from Penn State Agricultural and Biological Engineering Extension Office, 246 Ag Engineering Building, University Park, PA 16802, phone (814) 865-7685.
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