Construction is underway in Northern Missouri on an innovative $80 million renewable energy project, developed and constructed by Roeslein Alternative Energy, LLC in collaboration with Murphy-Brown.
The project will turn 88 existing lagoons into anaerobic digesters by installation of impermeable covers. Naturally occurring microorganisms then decompose the manure in an oxygen free environment, and biogas rises to the top, where it can be harvested.
What remains is more than 98% methane with approximately the same chemical composition as natural gas that can be used for vehicle fuel or injected into the natural gas grid system. The undigestable solid residue can be used by local farmers as a natural fertilizer and the water can be safely used for irrigation.
The project is the largest of its kind, and will create several hundred million cubic feet of RNG annually for regional distribution.
RAE expects the project to demonstrate how underutilized agricultural resources can create renewable fuel, benefit the ecosystem and generate economic opportunity.
"We are excited to see the results of our collaboration with Smithfield and Murphy-Brown begin to take shape. This project can be a model to show how both economic and environmental benefits can be gained by using manure in a different way," said Rudi Roeslein, president of Roeslein Alternative Energy and CEO of Roeslein & Associates.
The value from the project comes in two forms: reusable energy and benefits to the planet.
"There is value in the gas we capture as alternative vehicle fuel. There is even more value to the environment from reduced greenhouse gas emissions, eliminating rainfall effects on treatment systems, and odor reduction," Roeslein said.
RAE retained Industrial & Environmental Concepts Inc. to design and install the High Density Polyethylene lagoon covers, with the initial 21 being installed at MBM Valley View and South Meadows farms in Northern Missouri by fall 2014. RNG production is expected to begin in late 2014.
Much of the equipment and process modules will be fabricated by local fabrication companies and Roeslein & Associates wholly owned subsidiary Roeslein Fabrication in Red Bud, Illinois.
In addition to using hog manure, RAE ultimately intends to produce RNG from cover crops harvested between growing seasons on prime agriculture land and grasses harvested from highly erodible farm ground converted to native grasslands.
The concept creates an economic structure that better utilizes land assets, delivers significant environmental benefits, reduces soil erosion, benefits wildlife and improves water quality, RAE says.