skip to main content
skip to newscasts

Friday, April 19, 2024

Public News Service Logo
facebook instagram linkedin reddit youtube twitter
view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

UW Partnership Converts Manure to Jet Fuel in Fighting Climate Change

play audio
Play

Monday, May 1, 2023   

By Anastasia Pirrami for Great Lakes Echo.
Broadcast version by Mike Moen for Wisconsin News Connection reporting for the Solutions Journalism Network-Public News Service Collaboration


The University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, and Agra Energy are operating Wisconsin's first commercial facility to turn manure into fuel for trucks and jets.

The project started six years ago when Agra Energy searched for waste streams to turn into fuel and that went into existing infrastructure such as tanks, pumps and engines.

The California based company refines biogases produced by landfills, food waste or manure from Wisconsin farms into fuel, said Tony Long, Agra Energy's president and chief technology officer. Its technology converts hydrogen and carbon monoxide into a chain of hydrocarbon molecules.

Those are then separated to make diesel and jet fuel - something called the fisher trope process. It is a process used on a large scale by companies like Shell and Arco in countries such as Qatar and Malaysia to ship natural gas, but not by using waste streams.

"What they do is convert liquids and then they are much easier to ship," Long said. "It's not that it doesn't exist, but applying it specifically to waste streams and that small scale is what was unique about what Agra's bringing in the research at University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh."

After a successful pilot facility was built and operated at the university in 2020, the new facility will be running in early 2023.

The process produces diesel and jet fuel but not gasoline. Gasoline needs aromatics which the particular technology of this process does not create, Long said.

Biogas also helps mitigate emissions that would have otherwise escaped from landfills or manure lagoons and contribute to the greenhouse gases that produce climate change. Using the methane these sources produce dramatically reduces its climate impact by converting it into carbon dioxide, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

The facility is in New Franken, right outside of Green Bay. It was strategically placed in Wisconsin because of that state's "untapped biodigester market," said Kenneth Johnson, the biodigester research and operations manager at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh.

A lot of the biodigesters in Wisconsin just process the manure, Johnson said. Sometimes, farmers will even just flare, or burn, the gas and not use it at all.

The University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, has one of the first research operated digesters in the nation. By having gas-to-liquid systems, many other groups that want to do similar work with biodigesters and renewable biofuel will go to Oshkosh to test their products and ideas, he said.

"Coming here was a great opportunity to buy up some of the market for this fuel because we have a ton of digesters and farms," he said.

As the first facility in the state, Johnson is expecting some growing pains to commercialize the fuel with a competitive market. People must realize there is value to biogas, he said. There needs to be buyers.

As a new fuel source, there is a challenge to certifying biofuel as diesel. When diesel is produced, so are equal parts of jet fuel, he said. Jet fuel is harder to certify because a jet could stall in the air.

"The goal is to show that the diesel production in the facility works great," Johnson said. "And then their future push is to certify the jet fuel. So, the biggest challenge now is to make sure that what they are producing meets specs that are required from certification panels."

The goal for the new commercial facility is to make about 1,800 gallons of fuel per day, Long said.

There is only so much energy left in the manure after being digested by a cow, which limits the amount of gas available.

"But obviously there are other farms," Long said. "So the goal is that after we get the first farm going, it is to partner up with other sites that also have waste streams and create the multiplier effect by virtue of multiple sites."

Agra Energy has already hired three students out of the university, all of whom have worked on the pilot research and are now employees at the commercial site.


Anastasia Pirrami wrote this article for Great Lakes Echo.


get more stories like this via email

more stories
In Pennsylvania, more than 400,000 people are living with Alzheimer's disease. (C. Nathaniel Brown)

Health and Wellness

play sound

Alzheimer's disease is the eighth-leading cause of death in Pennsylvania. A documentary on the topic debuts Saturday in Pittsburgh. "Remember Me: …


Social Issues

play sound

April is Financial Literacy Month, when the focus is on learning smart money habits but also how to protect yourself from fraud. One problem on the …

Environment

play sound

Arizona conservation groups and sportsmen alike say they're pleased the Bureau of Land Management will now recognize conservation as an integral part …


Social Issues

play sound

The need for child care and early learning is critical, especially in rural Arkansas. One nonprofit is working to fill those gaps by giving providers …

Workers harvest a field before the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. (Jeff Huth/Adobe Stock)

Environment

play sound

An annual march for farmworkers' rights is being held Sunday in northwest Washington. This year, marchers are focusing on the conditions for local …

Social Issues

play sound

A new Gallup and Lumina Foundation poll unveils a concerning reality: Hoosiers may lack clarity about the true cost of higher education. The survey …

Environment

play sound

As state budget negotiations continue, groups fighting climate change are asking California lawmakers to cut subsidies for oil and gas companies …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021