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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: PRODUCTION OF QUALITY POWER AND/OR HEAT FOR ON-FARM OPERATIONS

Location: Renewable Energy and Manure Management Research

Project Number: 6209-13610-007-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Sep 01, 2009
End Date: May 07, 2013

Objective:
The long-term objective of this project is to develop the technology and demonstrate the equipment needed to provide heat and power for stationary on-farm energy uses. Modern agricultural activities require large amounts of heat and power to achieve the production efficiencies required to meet the demands for food, feed, fiber, and energy. Cities, industries, and service organizations require more and more of the energy produced by large central generating plants; therefore, farmers and ranchers have to seek ways to produce their own energy. Traditionally, farmers and ranchers have produced their own energy by burning wood and crop residues. They also used water, wind, and animal energy to provide the needed power. During the last 80 years, farmers have used alternative fuels derived from petroleum and coal. Now that petroleum-based energy is in limited supply and expensive, producers must return to the basic, natural, renewable energy sources. The project will focus on the following three objectives: Objective 1: Develop (1) hybrid biodiesel/wind/solar- and (2) hybrid wind/solar-based technologies that enable commercial on-farm production of heat and power. Subobjective 1A: Use hybrid wind/solar energy systems to pump water for irrigation in the Southern High Plains; Subobjective 1B: Develop industrial control algorithms that allow for the safe and efficient integration of biodiesel/wind/solar hybrid systems into agricultural operations for the production of heat and power; Subobjective 1C: Use heat from sun to either heat or preheat water for dairies in the Southern High Plains. Objective 2: Develop hybrid wind/solar-based technologies that enable commercial on-farm production of hydrogen. Objective 3: Develop microbial-based technologies that enable commercial on-farm production of fuels, power, and/or bioproducts from manures. Subobjective 3A: Identify microorganisms that are electricigens or microbial consortia that can act as electricigens that are derived from either beef or dairy concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO); Subobjective 3B: Determine the potential power output of identified electricigens-microbial consortia in low- (H-cell type) and high-power (ministack-type) fuel cell configurations using various types and forms of 'manure fuels;' Subobjective 3C: Evaluate microbial consortia-bioreactor designs for the efficient generation of H from manure wastes.

Approach:
This project will involve research experiments designed to develop new products that will allow farmers and ranchers to produce affordable, renewable, reliable energy from wind, solar, and biomass resources. The research team has a long history in designing remote power systems for pumping water and providing electricity to remote sites and villages. This activity will continue by the development of hybrid systems using both wind and solar energy with storage capability to provide continuous power or heat. Efforts will be expanded by including research that will examine the feasibility of producing either hydrogen or electricity using a microbial fuel cell in manure-laden waste water retention ponds.

Last Modified: 9/1/2014
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