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04-11-2014

Clarkson University Awarded $500K by U.S. Dept. of Agriculture for Anaerobic Digester Research

Congressman Bill Owens and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced yesterday that Clarkson University has been awarded nearly $500,000 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative to expand its clean energy work by continuing development of anaerobic digesters for North Country farms.

Read Congressman Owens' news release at http://owens.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=376293 .

Read Senator Gillibrand's news release at http://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/gillibrand-announces-nearly-500000-for-clarkson-university-for-clean-energy-

Clarkson Professor Stefan Grimberg with students at the Cornell Cooperative Extension farm in Canton, N.Y.The research project, titled "Anaerobic Digesters for Small-Farms:  An economically viable technology," will be  conducted by Stefan J. Grimberg, and Shane Rogers of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Clarkson University; Joseph (Rick) Welsh, Food Studies, Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition, Syracuse University; and Patrick T. Ames and Brent A. Buchanan of the Cornell Cooperative Extension in St. Lawrence County.

Unlike wind and solar, anaerobic digestion (AD) of farm residue is independent of weather conditions; and can be a baseline power source in a mix of renewables. In the U.S., AD technology has been adopted by larger-scale livestock farms, including dairy farms, as the applications are designed for larger operations. Internationally, AD technologies operate at very small scales.  And in the U.S., dairy farms of 500 or less milking cows make up 95% of dairy farms. Clarkson University researchers have developed an AD design and pilot-scale application which demonstrates the economic viability of AD technology for smaller dairy farms. We hypothesize that smaller-scale dairy farmers will adopt AD technology if they are exposed to viable options appropriate for their farms.

The goal of this project is to upgrade the pilot-scale digester located at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Learning Farm in St. Lawrence County, N.Y., and use it as the basis of training workshops organized by extension staff to teach stakeholders of all types about the operation of AD systems for smaller-scale dairy farms. In addition, data collected through continuous operation of the upgraded pilot AD system will be made available on the web so that interested parties can conduct analyses tailored to their particular circumstances. Outcomes include: (1) the development of a show case digester system for smaller-scale dairy farms; (2) workshops which provide hand-on experience in AD technology for smaller dairy farm operators; and (3) widespread awareness of the potential for AD technology to benefit smaller dairy farms.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University has been awarded nearly $500,000 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand its clean energy work by continuing development of anaerobic digesters for North County farms. Above, Clarkson Professor Stefan Grimberg with students at the Cornell Cooperative Extension farm in Canton, N.Y.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/grimberg-digester.jpg.]

[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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