This week’s issue of Dairy Business magazine includes our own Craig Frear on the cover for his article on how digested dairy waste will be an important component for advancing a clean, hydrogen transportation system.
Two of the eight finalists for Project of the Year were built by Regenis.
Ferndale, WA– Two Whatcom County dairy digester projects built by agricultural waste solutions company, Regenis, have been nominated as finalists for the American Biogas Council’s Project of the Year Awards, which will be handed out at a ceremony on October 16th in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The event, which takes place during Biocycle Refor18, showcases innovative approaches, technologies or partnerships which advance the biogas industry. Eight projects across the United States were nominated for the four awards to be given out that evening including Edaleen Cow Power and FPE Renewables, both located in Lynden, Washington.
Regenis installed the FPE digester at the Vander Haak Dairy in 2004. It was the first dairy digester in Washington State and has had a historic 13-year runtime until this past year when upgrades to its roof were completed. The mixed plug-flow digester captures methane from the dairy waste stream and converts it into clean biogas while destroying 99 percent of the pathogens and bacteria.
The Edaleen mixed plug-flow digester was installed in 2012 and also has a 100 percent runtime. Like FPE, pathogens and bacteria in the waste stream are destroyed in the digestion process while the biogas created from capturing methane in the waste stream is sold to the local utility.
Additionally, Regenis installed a fine solids separation system at the dairy in 2017, which removes over 90 percent of the suspended solids in the post-digestion waste stream and 90 percent of the phosphorous, which is key to protecting local salmon streams and watersheds.
Dr.Craig Frear, Regenis’ Director of Research and Technology, will be attending the event on behalf of the company.
For More Information: Michael Grossman (206) 301-0167 or MichaelG@Regenis.net
Creating a highway humming with hydrogen cars has been a dream of scientists, policymakers and environmentalists for decades. Today, thanks to the dairy cow, we are closer than ever to making it a reality.
One of the biggest hurdles in creating hydrogen fuel until now has been the enormous amount of fossil fuel-based energy it takes to extract hydrogen from water or hydrocarbons.
Most hydrogen fuel is produced via steam methane reforming where natural gas reacts with steam in a catalytic converter to produce hydrogen gas as well as carbon dioxide. Water electrolysis, another highly utilized process, uses an electric current to separate H2O into hydrogen and oxygen gas, but it too, requires significant amounts of fossil-fuel derived electricity.
Exit the Cow
It’s well known that dairy cows contribute significantly to methane (a very potent greenhouse gas) release, both from their burps and management of their manure. as waste exits their systems, and some dairy farms have installed anaerobic digesters to capture and use as renewable energy. Inside the digester’s airless tank, organic matter is converted into biogas, which in turn can fuel combustion engines to power the farm or grid.
However, biogas does not have to power a generator. Thanks in large part to California’s emission reduction targets, a financial market is developing for biogas, scrubbed of impurities, to be injected straight into natural gas pipelines as a renewable equivalent to fossil natural gas. One use for this renewable natural gas (RNG) is an input to generate hydrogen gas. While the above-described process has not changed to produce hydrogen, the CO2 emission reductions from this renewable approach are significant.
Enter The Car
Toyota has gone all in with its efforts to take hydrogen gas—sorry—the last mile to zero emissions. Their innovation is to pump the renewable natural gas directly into a fuel cell, which is like a giant battery. This battery, though, generates both hydrogen and electricity, as well as the heat and water to catalyze the reaction.
Not all of hydrogen’s hurdles are solved. For example, there are only 39 hydrogen fueling stations across the United States, and of those, 35 are in California. Hundreds more are required before Americans invest in cars dependent upon this new technology.
Consumers will also presumably want to fuel their cars for less than $5.60 per gallon, the current cost of hydrogen fuel. Additionally, America is far behind the curve when it comes to capturing methane to create biogas. Europe, for example, had 12,496 animal waste digesters in 2016 compared to the 281 in the U.S. as of April 2018.
With the right policies encouraging methane capture from cows, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory calculates that 486,000 metric tons of hydrogen or 477 million gasoline gallon equivalents could be generated annually from dairy digesters throughout the U.S—enough to supply the annual fuel needs of nearly 730,000 U.S. drivers.
With General Motors and Honda partnering to bring their hydrogen model to market to compete with Toyota, the potential is there for huge advances in a hydrogen fuel economy, relying in part on our nation’s dairy cows to commit to their duties on a daily basis.
Dr. Craig Frear is Regenis’ Director of Research and Technology. He is also on the Board of Directors of the American Biogas Council.
Coldstream Farms of Deming, Washington, a family farm in the northwest corner of the state, is working to turn their 2,500-cow dairy into a zero-waste business with a cutting-edge filtration system that will transform the cow manure into clean water.
Regenis clean water membrane technology systems to be tested at a dairy farm in Washington. Read the rest of the story…
For Immediate Release: July 9, 2018
Ferndale, Washington–The answer to “How Now A Brown Cow?” can produce water clean enough for drinking is about to be answered on a 2,500-cow dairy in the Northwest corner of Washington State.
Last week, the Washington State Conservation Commission (WSCC) awarded a $930,305 grant to install and operate a clean water membrane technology system provided by Regenis, an agricultural waste solutions company, to be located at Coldstream Farms in Deming, WA.
This state-of-the-art system will generate 12,000 gallons of clean water daily from the 22,000 gallons of cow manure the farm produces through a unique combination of nanofiltration and reverse osmosis. Once treated, the water is suitable for farm animals to drink or even to benefit local salmon runs by increasing streamflow.
Additionally, by separating the solids from the liquids, the system can generate 8,000-gallons of nitrogen and potassium-rich concentrate daily, which is suitable for use as a chemical-free fertilizer. The remainder of the captured manure is a phosphorous-rich solid nutrient. Nothing from the process will be discarded.
“Clean water is our most precious resource,” said Regenis Vice President, Bryan VanLoo.“ Adding 4.3 million gallons of it every year is the equivalent of adding the length of three-and-a-half football fields, 50 feet wide and ten feet deep to our watershed.”
Once Regenis installs the system this fall, they will operate it through the end of the grant period in June 2019, closely monitoring inputs and outputs. Meanwhile, the Public Utility District No. 1 of Whatcom County is working with the State Department of Ecology among others on the permitting process to create a confluence between the new stream of clean water and the Nooksack River.
“The PUD is a steward of water and energy resources and resource protection for the benefit of the residents, businesses and agricultural community of Whatcom County,” said PUD General Manager, Stephan Jilk. “The PUD considers this clean water membrane technology as a viable solution to some of the water resource issues we are facing, and we hope to see the technology replicated on other Whatcom County farms.”
Some of the remaining captured nutrients will be trucked to local berry producer, Maberry Packing, and seed potato grower, Ebe Farms, for testing as a replacement to imported fossil-based fertilizers. The results from this project will be shared with the dairy industry to demonstrate system performance and with the WSCC as part of its mission to “implement, test and analyze innovative and emerging technologies in manure management to help reduce potential environmental impacts to soil, water or air.”
Galen Smith, co-owner of Coldstream Farms, which is one of Darigold’s co-op milk providers said, “Nothing should ever be wasted when you look holistically at the dairying process. We believe in being good stewards of our land and providing a wholesome product to our customers. Growing our crops with chemically-free nutrients and putting clean water back into our local streams is just another step along the way to closing the loop as nature intended.”
The project was born of independent discussions Regenis had with their partners over several months, even before the grant was conceived. Regenis, Vice President, Bryan Van Loo said, “This grant opportunity came along at the perfect time to demonstrate our technology, and we want to recognize the Conservation Commission for seeing this as a multifaceted opportunity to meet several of their objectives.”
“Coldstream had been searching for ways to reduce the volume of manure to be stored and applied to their fields, and the PUD is seeking new sources of water and resource protection. Joining them with local farmers who want to reduce their carbon footprint from fossil-derived fertilizers while allowing them to support the local agricultural industry with dollars they would have spent abroad makes this a fully rounded circle of sustainability.”
“Our customers have been telling us they need options for their manure treatment to reduce liquid volume and to concentrate nutrients. Now we can reduce their trucking costs, increase their revenues with a valuable commodity and reduce their need for a fresh water supply,” VanLoo said. Regenis will begin taking orders for their clean water membrane systems starting August 1st in the United States and Canada. Upon completion of the installation at Coldstream Farms this fall, onsite tours will be conducted.
The consumer knows that dairy cows are the source of many delicious and nutritious foods, including milk, cheese, and ice cream. The farmer knows that they also produce a tremendous amount of manure—thousands of gallons daily on even the smallest dairy farms.
When not handled properly, the manure’s greenhouse gasses and bacteria are harmful to the environment—and the odor isn’t too pleasant, either. (Read the rest of the article…)
Craig Frear, Regenis’ Director of Research and Technology, has published a new paper titled, Approaches to Nutrient Recovery from Dairy Manure.” Co-authored with Jingwei Ma and Georgine Yorgey, it’s a comprehensive overview of primary and secondary options and economics of separating solids from cow manure in order to generate dry co-products like animal bedding and peat moss replacements while removing soil and plant nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen from the waste stream before the liquid is reapplied to dairy fields, which prevents over saturation and runoff into watersheds.
Additionally, Frear’s work delves into the options and costs in the newer field of treating dairy manure to produce ‘clean water’ suitable for re-use as industrial process water and drinking water for animals.
With all of the current options available to dairies, Frear and his colleagues conclude:
While not a magic bullet, NR technologies, used in combination with enhanced manure and fertilizer application management, have the potential to improve overall manure management — and to provide new options to dairies that are seeking to produce milk both sustainably and profitably.
A new paper published in Science Direct and co-authored by Regenis’ Director of Research and Technology, Dr. Craig Frear, shows promising results on using post-digested dairy fiber as the primary feedstock to clean biogas and to remove odors in animal waste.
The study, funded through the USDA, demonstrated when animal waste run through an anaerobic digester is exposed to the chemical process of pyrolysis at high temperatures over a sustained period of time, it creates a natural, charcoal-like substrate called biochar, which can then be used to clean the hydrogen sulfide in biogas so it can meet the standards for a clean transportation fuel like CNG.
Additionally, once it has scrubbed the hydrogen sulfide, the spent biochar is rich in soil nutrients like carbon and sulfur, giving dairies the option of applying it to their fields to increase the organic content of their soil or creating another revenue source by selling the environmentally friendly substrate to help farmers and gardeners create a pH balanced soil full of nutrients which improves water and oxygen retention.
Download the entire article: Charcoal from Anaerobically Digested Dairy Fiber for Removal of Hydrogen Sulfide Within Biogas
Late last week, Washington state Governor, Jay Inslee, signed a bill to promote the development and use of renewable natural gas (RNG).