CFAES Give Today

Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering


Low-Cost Biodigesters for Renewable Energy Generation and Waste Treatment

Low-Cost Biodigesters for Renewable Energy Generation and Waste Treatment (Dr. Martin)

Anaerobic digesters are a method to convert organic waste products such as manure into energy (methane gas). This process also produces improvements in water quality.

While some large dairies and organic waste producers can take advantage of anaerobic digestion, the costs and maintenance requirements of current technology prohibit medium and small farmers from realizing the benefits of this technology. These benefits include renewable energy generation and wastewater treatment.

Simple, low-tech digesters that successfully produce energy and treat agricultural wastewater in tropical climates have been investigated over the past three years. They have now installed an experimental digester at Waterman Farm that is producing energy from dairy manure. Preliminary results indicate abundant gas production in warmer seasons, and need to improve performance during the winter.

Adapting this technology to temperate climates will enable millions of farmers and other organic waste producers to realize the benefits of anaerobic digestion including renewable energy production and waste treatment. Dr. Martin and his students built an experimental system at Waterman farm in 2009 that has been producing biogas since the fall of 2009.