Farm Waste to Energy: A Sustainable Solution for Small-Scale Farms

EPA Grant Number: SU834293
Title: Farm Waste to Energy: A Sustainable Solution for Small-Scale Farms
Investigators: Rogers, Shane , Grimberg, Stefan J. , Welsh, Joseph R.
Current Investigators: Grimberg, Stefan J. , Armington, W , Booska, B , Boyd, V , Desing, G , Dissanayake, D , Gibson, Shannon L , Gilman, Falisha , Klotzbach, C , Labelle, J , Laush, C , Maley, C , Matteson, K , McCrum, I , Page, T , Reddinger, M , Rogers, Shane , Welsh, Joseph R.
Institution: Clarkson University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2009 through August 14, 2010
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2009) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Awards , Sustainability , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Agriculture , P3 Challenge Area - Energy


Environmental problems associated with manure management in livestock agriculture, along with rising energy costs, have fueled interest in energy-producing manure treatment technologies such as anaerobic digesters (AD), which produce methane gas that can be used to generate electricity, heat and/or lamp light. Public resources to develop and implement AD on farms have been spent primarily on large-scale confined livestock operations. However, the experience of households in developing nations illustrates that AD applications for small farms exist, and our previous work illustrates that small dairy farm operators have interest in this technology. One factor limiting the economics of AD technology at small farms, especially in cold climates, is the energy required to maintain the reactor temperature at 100ºF. Potential solutions to this engineering problem are to identify alternate/additional feedstocks to the digester, which would result in greater biogas production useful for heat, or use alternate heat sources on the farm presently wasted.


Given the variety of potential supplemental energy sources the goal of the project is to develop a farm-integrated digester system suitable for a diverse small farm in Northern New York.

Expected Results:

The project will involve the assessment of feedstock available at area farms, assessment of potential biogas yields for feedstock mixtures, process design, feasibility testing, and lifecycle assessment (LCA) of the developed hybrid process. Small-scale farmers will profit from the energy produced for use on the farm, as well as from a stabilized biosolids product that will improve soil fertility. The reduction in livestock manure pollutants will lower runoff of these pollutants to surface waters, and diversion of methane from livestock manures into a useful energy product will lower greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere.

Supplemental Keywords:

Digester, farm waste, sustainable waste treatment, biogas technology,

Relevant Websites:

Phase 2 Abstract

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report
  • P3 Phase II:

    Farm Waste to Energy: A Sustainable Solution for Small-Scale Farms