Biomethane for Transportation

EPA Grant Number: SU833169
Title: Biomethane for Transportation
Investigators: Leonhardt, Eric
Current Investigators: Leonhardt, Eric , Castillo, Anthony , Cruse, Ryan , Freund, Alex , Jopin, Matt , Parent, Sean , Shaw, Todd , Sjodin, Jeremy , Stazel, Jordan , Swazo, Jamin , Welsh, Geoff , Wohlenhaus, Drew
Institution: Western Washington University
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


The purpose of this action is to request approval of a new grant assistance agreement between Western Washington University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The proposed project was submitted to the EPA in response to the 2005 solicitation for RFA 2005-P3-Z3 for the 3rd Annual P3 Award: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity, and the Planet.

With increasing dependence on foreign oil, escalating energy prices, and persistent air and water pollution associated with energy production, there is an opportunity to develop cleaner, renewable energy sources to meet demand. To begin to address this challenge, this project aims to develop a small scale bio-methane fuel production and purification test bed, which will process biogas retrieved from local dairy farms. The resulting fuel will be tested for the amount of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide removed and then used in a high-efficiency hybrid natural-gas powered engine. This renewable, clean energy technology will also contribute to resolving the challenge to dairy waste and the associated environmental burden in watersheds surrounding agricultural lands. This technology can lead to an increased use of alternative energy sources thereby reducing the air emissions associated with traditional energy production. This will mitigate environmental and human health effects currently associated with meeting energy demand.

Expected Results:

Researchers will use laboratory studies and model simulations to examine the viability of generating methane through the digestion of agricultural waste. This methane will then be analyzed for quality and purity before being used to power a natural gas powered hybrid motor vehicle. In addition, this study will examine the potential for offsetting agricultural waste by converting it to energy in terms of economics and environmental impact. In this way, this project addresses air emissions by producing energy from a renewable, non-emitting source and addresses water pollution concerns by capturing and recovering agricultural waste for use in energy production. Consistent with Goal 5, this research is expected to advance the overall scientific understanding of the methane generation from bioreactors running on agricultural waste and the usefulness of this fuel in an adapted natural gas hybrid motor vehicle. This project will provide a science-based assessment of producing energy from an alternative source that is economical and environmentally friendly.

Supplemental Keywords:

RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Environmental Engineering, sustainable development, environmental sustainability, alternative materials, biomass, energy efficiency, energy technology, alternative fuel, biodiesel fuel, alternative energy source

Relevant Websites:

Phase 2 Abstract

Biomethane for Transportation (ABC Good Morning America) (QuickTime Video, 1:54, 32.6 MB | Windows Media Player Video, 1:54, 11.6 M | Podcast, 1:54, 11.9 MB)

Biomethane for Transportation (Energy Rush) (QuickTime Video, 2:07, 40.6 MB | Windows Media Player Video, 2:07, 12.8 MB | Podcast, 2:07, 31.1 MB)

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report
  • P3 Phase II:

    Biomethane for Transportation  | Final Report