skip to main content
skip to newscasts

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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

Opponents of latest AR state tax cuts say they benefit wealthy Arkansans; Julian Assange agrees to a plea deal that would allow him to avoid imprisonment in US; Tech-based carbon-capture projects make headway in local government; NV nonprofit calls Biden's student debt initiatives economic justice.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Charges against fake electors in Nevada are dismissed, Milwaukee officials get ready to expect the unexpected at the RNC convention, and the Justice Department says Alaska is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

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
Of the 17 states that have enacted music therapy legislation, 11 have placed the law in its own statute chapter, and others have grouped it with other forms of therapy. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

play sound

Advocates in Wyoming trying to get music therapy licensure recognized in the state are hitting roadblocks. Members of the Wyoming Music Therapy …


play sound

A new report finds New York City environmental-justice communities face worsening air quality. It's part of the Community Heat and Air Mapping …

Environment

play sound

By Ysabelle Kempe for SmartCitiesDive.Broadcast version by Eric Galatas for Colorado News Connection reporting for the Solutions Journalism Network-Pu…


Environment

play sound

Electric-vehicle owners in North Dakota have long called for more action to boost the state's charging station network. There continues to be mixed …

Around 62% of Michigan households own a pet. Almost 42% of them own a dog and 31% own a cat.
(Drobot Dean/Adobe Stock)

Environment

play sound

Animal lovers and activists in Michigan are celebrating proposed legislation to protect animals and save taxpayers money. Senate Bill 657 and Senate …

Social Issues

play sound

The latest Maryland School Breakfast Report finds tens of thousands fewer kids are being served post COVID. The end of pandemic era waivers two …

Social Issues

play sound

A controversial new law is set to take effect next week, requiring Hoosiers to upload sensitive documents, including driver's licenses and Social …

 

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