Mining Brown Gold for Dairy Farmers

Jan 8th, 2010 | By John Waller | Category: Biofuels
Photo By: Eric Dufresne

The new dairy will break down manure into carbon and cellulose for ethanol production, making 45 gallons of alcohol per ton of manure on a dry weight basis. Photo By: Eric Dufresne

By Alyssa Danigelis

 A new dairy in Texas promises to green the farming process and put more money in farmers’ pockets at a time when they are feeling the greatest pinch.

The demonstration dairy facility under construction at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, plans to turn cow manure into ethanol. Usually manure is treated like waste, which quickly becomes an environmental problem says Larry Lehr, a senior lecturer in environmental science at Baylor University. At the new facility, Texas A&M’s Texas AgriLife Research agency will be testing a proprietary ethanol production process that Lehr developed.

Dealing with manure usually costs dairy farmers 30 cents a head per day, Lehr says. Multiply that by 3,000 cows and you’ve got a farmer losing $900 daily. Instead, the new dairy will be breaking the manure down into carbon and cellulose for ethanol production, making 45 gallons of alcohol per ton of manure on a dry weight basis. Methane from manure will power the ethanol production process. To make it even more sustainable, Lehr says that leftover carbon dioxide can be used to cultivate algae for cattle feed.

Initial construction on the dairy, which will have 400 cows and handle a ton of manure daily, is expected to be completed by April or May. Construction work will start on the ethanol production part shortly after that. “It’s not going to be a huge [ethanol] source, but it’s a way to rid the farmer of waste and make money at the same time,” Lehr says.
In other good news for dairy farmers, a company called Champagne Edition Inc. in Alberta, Canada, is recycling tires into Cozy Cow mattresses, Gizmag reports. Comfortable cows are happy cows. And when their manure is making us money, so are we.

Mining Brown Gold for Dairy Farmers : Discovery News

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