The project will involve the implementation of technologies at full scale at the prototype dairy farm, Maple Leaf Dairy, and will utilize Soil Net’sinnovative, proprietary (patented), polymer-based technologies that enable cost-effective separation (“fractionation”) of dairy manure and associated bioenergy co-products: ethanol, vegetable oil / meals, biodiesel, and organic soil amendments such as mulches, and customized fertilizer nutrients. Importantly, these polymer-based technologies have been shown to provide cost-effective separation solutions at smaller scale than many extant separation technologies. The process / flow diagram at right shows the major components of the system that is being constructed and evaluated, and comprises five major interacting components: (1) Crop System, (2) Manure Processing, (3) Biogas, (4) Bioethanol, and (5) Biodiesel / Oil.
A comprehensive life cycle analysis (LCA) will be performed on this integrated dairy / energy production system. As in any complex system such as this, there are potential tradeoffs in economic performance, environmental quality, and energy inputs. The LCA model will quantify the macro-scale environmental impacts of various configurations of the system.
The outcome environmental impact indicators will include greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, net energy balances (at the farm and state level), and nutrient use efficiency (and its implications on soil and water quality). The LCA effort for this project will develop life cycle inventories (LCI’s) on the new components of this system and modify and refine existing LCI’s based on the results of the experimental and demonstration work conducted in this project. Optimization techniques will be applied to help understand critical elements of this system and optimal configurations.