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04-22-2005

State Budget Awards Clarkson $1 Million For Agricultural Renewable Energy Research

The 2005-2006 New York State budget approved by legislators and Governor Pataki includes a $1 million appropriation for Clarkson University to research ways that waste remainder from cheese manufacture, animal waste, and other agricultural byproducts can be used as feedstock to produce biogas to generate heat and electric power on New York State farms.

Clarkson President Tony Collins praised State Senate Energy Committee Chair Jim Wright of Watertown for his leadership in seeking funding for the project and for securing bipartisan support. “Senator Jim Wright convinced his colleagues and Governor Pataki of the value of bringing new technology to old problems with farm waste,” said Collins. “Generating dairy farm heat and electric power from agricultural waste is an excellent example of how Clarkson faculty is using their expertise in energy and the environment to transfer the technology developed in our laboratories into practical and economically viable commerce.”

State funding will make up a significant portion of the $2 million budget that University researchers are seeking to build a state-of-the-art digester/energy recovery system at a working dairy farm and use the results to provide a basis for extending digester/energy system technologies across the North Country. The farm will be used to showcase emerging technologies and collect data on the mass and energy flows to validate a computer model to optimize the system. Researchers will survey farmers to identify critical issues and mechanisms required to overcome the barriers for implementation of such systems at other farms. The proposed technology could help farmers reduce their energy costs and make it economically feasible for them to generate additional income by raising cash crops in greenhouses heated by waste from the farm’s operation or other income generators such as small cheese-making operations.

"I am pleased to partner with Clarkson and the local agricultural community on this important project. I look forward to continuing to work with Clarkson on initiatives that promote economic development and technology transfer in the region in an effort to expand job opportunities in the North Country,” remarked New York State Senator Jim Wright."

The North Country dairy industry has been challenged recently by the closure of some of the area’s cheese plants as well as the impact of environmental regulations and limitations of the existing dairy-to-fuel technology. “The science of maximum-energy anaerobic digester feedback in conjunction with optimizing combined heat and power systems could be beneficial to both farmers and the environment,” said Powers. “In addition to helping reduce energy costs on the farm, the waste-to-energy system can reduce carbon dioxide and other air emissions and replace fossil fuel consumption with a renewable source.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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