ARE will leverage biomass processing technology developed by the Wisconsin-based business Soil Net, LLC, engineering and fabrication expertise from Braun Electric, Inc. and FEECO International, also Wisconsin-based businesses, at the Maple Leaf Dairy in Cleveland, WI.
The project encompasses both R&D and prototypical farm-based demonstration of the following four components:
(1) Feedstocks Development: The bioenergy generated will derive primarily from recycled cellulosic components of dairy manure, which have minimal food / fuel issues.
(2) Biofuels and Biobased Products Development: The project will demonstrate / evaluate multiple sub-processes and associated value added biobased co-products: vegetable oil / meal, oil / biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol, biogas / manure digestion; recycled rinse water, low and high P (phosphorus) crop nutrients, and multiple cellulosic manure fiber fractions (for mulches, bedding, etc.).
(3) Biofuels and Biobased Products Development Analysis: The project will evaluate (calibrate, implement, validate) economic, environmental, lifecycle, process efficiency, and mass balance analysis and incorporate these into a business decision/management framework. In particular, an analysis of the economics of scale of the various system components will form a major part of the research effort.
(4) Use of Oil / Biodiesel for the Production of Grain or Cellulosic Ethanol: The system will be capable of producing oil / biodiesel from vegetable oil seed produced on the farm. Our research will determine the economic benefits of biodiesel as compared to purified vegetable oil for direct use in operating farm vehicles and machinery.
ARE applies novel technologies for the separation of manure into large fibers, small fibers, microfibers, and protein. The separated fibers are used for biofuels, mulch, and fertilizers, and the protein provides an excellent medium for bacterial growth. The yeast bi-product of alcohol fermentation is used as an animal nutrient. Products derived from separation of manure increase the economic viability of the dairy farm and reduce the environmental impact of unprocessed manure.
The separation of manure components and their bioconversion will lead to the creation of a new generation of sustainable byproducts: feedstocks for fuels, fiber for mulch, protein separation for amino acids and media for bacterial growth, yeast extract for animal feed, fertilizer pellets, and irrigation water that is high in nitrogen and low in phosphorus.
The ARE research team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Soil Net, LLC has solved biofuel supply chain issues by locating the bioconversion and feedstock production at the dairy farm. The proposed treatment process at the dairy farm site improves both the economics and the sustainability of the biomass supply chain by resulting in zero biomass transportation cost. The creation of biofuels from dairy manure biomass could significantly reduce fossil fuel use for transportation or on-farm operations.