Design of an Anaerobic Digester and Fuel Cell System for Energy Generation from Dairy Waste

EPA Grant Number: SU831898
Title: Design of an Anaerobic Digester and Fuel Cell System for Energy Generation from Dairy Waste
Investigators: Christy, Ann , Martin, Jay F. , Tuovinen, Olli H.
Current Investigators: Christy, Ann , Bettin, Clayton C. , Eichel, Cathy , Frew, Bethany A. , Gehres, Peter D. , Graf, Julie A. , Henry, Janell C. , Henslee, Brian E. , Marron, Corin , Martin, Jay F. , Moon, Jared , Nazareth, Melissa , Sanford, Cole S. , Tuovinen, Olli H. , Weber, Aaron V. , Yazdi, Hamid Rismani
Institution: The Ohio State University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2004 through May 30, 2005
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Energy , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The Bio-Environmental Design Team at The Ohio State University (OSU) will collaborate with the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering (FABE) Undergraduate Senior Capstone Design Course to design, build, and test a bench scale renewable electrical energy generation system employing a microbiological fuel cell to utilize dairy waste as a feedstock. The OSU Waterman Dairy Farm will provide necessary waste products. This microbiological fuel cell system will be scaled up for pilot testing based on experimental bench results, time, and resources available.


The immediate project goals will be to build an anaerobic digester designed to oxidize dairy waste and produce electricity using the microorganisms Geobacter sulfurreducens or Rhodoferax ferrireducens. The feedstock will be composed of bovine urine, manure, and wash water. The P3 award will be integrated into an entire year of the participating students curricula either by being directly enrolled in the Capstone Design Course, or by being a member of the extracurricular Bio-Environmental Design Team. Students in the Capstone Design Course perform research, propose designs, conduct testing, develop plans and procedures, and build a prototype in an effort to solve a given problem. The Bio-Environmental Design Team has developed prototypes of the microbiological fuel cell, and was competitively selected to present their preliminary results at the national meeting of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers in August 2004. Leaders of the Design Team will become peer mentors and project supervisors for the Capstone Design Course. The FABE department provides a unique environment for this project by embodying the principles of interdisciplinary learning and the integration of economically viable, socially beneficial, and environmentally sound engineering principles with undergraduate education. By teaming with the Department of Microbiology and the School of Natural Resources, the students will gain a rich interdisciplinary experience.

Expected Results:

The overarching project objectives will be to decrease farm dependence on fossil fuel generated electricity, decrease environmental impact of the farm, turn a waste stream from an economic cost into a gain, and provide benefit to the surrounding community.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 1 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 1 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

agriculture, biology, clean technologies, engineering, innovative technology, modeling, renewable, sustainable development, waste treatment, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Environmental Engineering, waste to fuel conversion, energy conservation, advanced oxidation process, fuel cell energy systems, animal waste, agricultural byproducts, microbial fuel cells, energy efficiency, energy technology, alternative energy source, renewable energy

Relevant Websites:

Project Description

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report