By Rubina Obaid
To replace traditional gas and coal power C-change researchers have developed innovative alternatives for the farmers to produce renewable natural gas that could be used as an energy source both on and off the farm. The project is based on anaerobic digestion or through the process by which microorganisms break down biomatter and produce biogas.
The spotlight in the United States is on high energy demand worldwide along with the rising oil prices and natural gas. This has aggravated the interest of researchers in alternative energy sources such as biofuels, forests, wind, solar and animal manure. As manure contains undigested and partially digested dietary nutrients that are important for plant growth. It also adds organic matter that helps in improving the soil structure. Nutrients in animal feed are mainly the source of energy that includes carbohydrates, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The five-year, $10 million grant from the USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture will contribute to power the Consortium for Cultivating Human and Natural reGenerative Enterprise (C-Change). It is working to create new value chains on U.S farms for the generation of renewable natural gas while improving rural economic outcomes and protects the natural environment.
To replace traditional gas and coal power C-change researchers have developed innovative alternatives for the farmers to produce renewable natural gas that could be used as an energy source both on and off the farm. The project is based on anaerobic digestion or through the process by which microorganisms break down biomatter and produce biogas, which is most of the time methane gas. For the sake of fulfilling the purpose, a federal grant will allow the research team which has been led by Iowa State University, Penn State, and Roeslein Alternative Energy for the development of new methods of turning biomass and manure into fuel. Animal manure is considered another potentially strong candidate for biomass and biofuel.
Schulte Moore a professor of natural resource ecology and management and associate director of the Bioeconomy Institute at Iowa State said ” Some area of farm fields particularly uneven terrain that is especially susceptible to erosion, frequently inundated areas or turn rows can yield poor or negative profits for corn and soybean to perennial grasses could save farmer’s money and helps in protecting the environment.” The Consortium will also engage producers, commodity groups, and companies to gauge receptive farmers and businesses to implement management practices and other knowledge emerging through a variety of experiments. The energy content of animal feed is expressed in calories, every calorie count is the quantity of heat required to raise the temperature of one gram of water by 1 degree Celsius from its initial temperature and pressure at sea level. The energy in feed can be portioned into net energy and lost energy.
Production of methane gas is a biological process that produces biogas from bio-degradation of organic matter. With new separation technologies, biogas can be upgraded to renewable natural gas and distributed through the gas pipeline network, much like renewable electricity is distributed through the electrical grid. The researchers are experimenting with the ways to optimize the digesters or the containers where the biomatter is broken down into methane. The founder of the company is hopeful for the impending spark along with significant job creation in the sector. The consortium will also engage producers, commodity groups, and companies to see how receptive farmers and businesses will implement management practices for an improved ecological system.