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Grant Funds Research on Methods of Using Biomass to Fuel Farms

A $10 million grant from USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture will help a research team led by Iowa State University, Penn State, and Roeslein Alternative Energy develop new methods of turning biomass and manure into fuel. Through this five-year project, the consortium will innovate methods for farmers to make more efficient use of resources with an emphasis on the generation of renewable natural gas, improved rural economic outcomes, and protection of the environment. Tom Richard, director of Penn State’s Institutes of Energy and the Environment, explains,”We will be working with farmers and other industrial partners to update anaerobic digestion for the 21st century, applying the principles of process intensification, automation and economies of scale to reduce costs, simplify operations and expand digester feedstocks beyond manure to incorporate perennial grasses and winter crops into their operations as a source of biomass for the digesters.” The consortium also will engage producers, commodity groups and companies to see how receptive farmers and businesses are to implement management practices and other knowledge emerging from experiments.