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Friday, October 30, 2009

Cow manure smells like success for potential energy production

From an article by Liz Welter in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune:

Creating energy from methane produced in cow manure could lead the way to local farmers generating their own electricity, said Tom Drendel, the former superintendent of the Marshfield University of Wisconsin Agriculture Research Station.

A coalition of area community leaders, of which Drendel is a member, is working to establish a Rural Energy Education Center at the agriculture station's dairy farm, M605 Drake Ave., town of McMillan.

Farms may be the source for much of the nation's alternative energy. Under the right conditions area farms can produce solar, wind and geothermal energy.

"There are all these different energy sources right here. We have a location to research and demonstrate this at our new site," said Drendel, who, since retiring, is a researcher at the agriculture station.

About $3 million is needed to establish the center and equip the farm with a prototype methane digester designed for the average dairy farm of about 100 cows, said Scott Larson, executive director of the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Developing a digester feasible for average-sized dairy farms was an idea of a MACCI energy council subcommittee, Larson said.

"We know this is feasible for the very large dairy farms, but in this area, most of our farms are about 100 cows," Larson said.

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