Clarkson Biomass Group (CBG)

An interdisciplinary group of Clarkson faculty and graduate students make up the Clarkson Biomass Group (CBG), which formed to investigate and promote the conversion of manure and other wastes into biogas in the North Country of New York State.  Biogas is typically about 60 %  Methane and 40 % Carbon Dioxide.  The gas can be burned to provide heat energy or to generate electrical energy, such as by a biogas-fueled engine-generator.

Why Form a Biomass Group?

The goal of CBG research is to provide the data and understanding necessary to overcome questions of reliability and prove the economic and environmental value of digester-energy recovery systems to increase their implementation. The physical system includes the digester, energy recovery for combined heat and power, emissions to the environment, and value added products. The farmers, markets and regulatory structure comprise the social system considered in this research.

The research is generating quantifiable evidence of the technical, environmental, economic and social efficacy of this integrated system. Through data acquisition and mathematical optimization, the system can be understood well enough to ensure that the best aspects of the system can be replicated elsewhere to maximize the economic benefit to the farmer while minimizing deleterious environmental impacts.

Project Areas

Please visit our list of projects here

  • NHD Project:

    • Pilot and full scale anaerobic digestion, co-generation systems are being installed at the North Harbor Dairy farm near Lake Ontario.
  • Model Project:

    • Data from the digester and energy recovery system will be used to validate the mathematical model and software created for design studies and to optimize the economic return from existing digester systems.
  • Life-Cycle Project

    • Environmental and economic impacts of the overall project are being quantified from a systems perspective.
  • Survey Project:

    • In-depth interiews and a survey of dairy farmers are being conducted to understand the motivations for installing the anaerobic digester and energy recovery system, experiences with the systems and the socio-economic factors that influence the relative propensity to install the systems.

Grants Received

The organizations currently sponsoring the CBG’s work, and the funds each has contributed, are:

  • New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets ($1,000,000)
    “Dairy Farm Power and Energy from Agricultural Wastes: Increasing Profitability and Reducing Environmental Impact”
  • New York State Energy Research and Development Agency ($200,000)
    “Methane Digester with added-value greenhouse”
  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) ($805,938)
    “Environmental and Economic Performance of an Integrated, Value Added Digester-Cogeneration Process”
  • New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (Clarkson subcontractor to Coolbrands project), $35,000
  • U.S. Department of Energy ($247,500)
    “Energy Economics of Farm Biogas In Cold Climates”
  • Clarkson University (cost sharing of all graduate student tuition), $250,000.

In addition, North Harbor Dairy directly received a USDA Rural Development Grant of $250,000 to be used primarily for digester system capital costs.

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