Environmental and Economic Impact Analysis of Manure Digester Biogas-Powered Fuel Cells for the Agricultural Sector

EPA Grant Number: SU833156
Title: Environmental and Economic Impact Analysis of Manure Digester Biogas-Powered Fuel Cells for the Agricultural Sector
Investigators: Sammes, Nigel M.
Current Investigators: Sammes, Nigel M. , Davis, Chase , Gherard, Katherine , Kukielka, Jessica , Lassman, Alex , Mohammadi, Alidad , Murphy, Melanie , Pusz, Jakub , Sayers, Jennifer , Serincan, Mustafa Fazil
Institution: University of Connecticut
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2006 through May 30, 2007
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Energy , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Through the ages, innovation and technology have consistently driven humanity. From his first discoveries to his latest and most cunning technological schemes, man has never failed to produce tailored ideas at the forefront of historically demanding times. This era is like any other: increased demand for economical growth and progress in the face rising populations and their endless demands for great products and achievements. Yet this constant rate of growth also holds one consistent flaw. In all of our creations, we leave behind the waste and scraps of our endeavors. And, over the ages, this waste continues to accumulate– in our land, in the waters, and in the air.

Uniting the ultra-clean and highly innovative technology of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells with environmentally sustainable applications, this project aspires to provide supporting evidence on the successful conversion of anaerobic digester biogas into readily available electricity and heat energy on agricultural production facilities. The parties involved in this project also recognize that taking small yet purposeful steps is vital to the progression of new technology. Therefore, this project seeks to build upon the known applications of anaerobic manure digesters as a new renewable energy source. In applying fuel cell technology, this project will follow a unique direction – generating a significant source of energy for a production facility while reducing harmful particulates and greenhouse gas emissions.

Through this research, the students involved hope to comprise evaluations on the successful operation of the Solid Oxide Fuel Cell on this fuel source. Furthermore, the resulting data and application will provide supplemental support through economic cost-benefit analysis. Recognizing that the potential benefits from this applied technology range from reduced input costs and direct profitability to non-market positive environmental externalities, the resulting impact analysis should be significant.

Overall, the interdisciplinary collaboration that this project promotes among students is significant and highly adaptable to student needs. By providing a wide range of educational experiences, this study has the potential to encourage not only significant research progress and applications of economic analyses, but also support the integration of students’ interests in marketing, community outreach, and environmental sustainability.

Supplemental Keywords:

methane, biogas, digester, manure, greenhouse gas, solid oxide, fuel cell, impact analysis, ambient air quality, global climate, risk assessment, ecological effects, animal waste, VOC, nitrogen oxides, pollution prevention, life-cycle analysis, alternatives, sustainable development, clean technologies, innovative technology, renewable, waste reduction, cost benefit, observation, nonmarket valuation, contingent valuation, socioeconomic, engineering, mathematics, economics, analytical, sectors: (agriculture: livestock/feedstock production, business, energy), industry: [0219, 0241, 0259, 0762, 4932, 4939, 8299, 8744],, RFA, Scientific Discipline, TREATMENT/CONTROL, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology, Economics, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Environmental Engineering, energy conservation, sustainable development, clean technologies, animal waste, biogas, fuel cell, agriculture, animal waste gasifier, emission reduction, bio-based energy

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report