CSU researcher developing anaerobic digester that uses less water
September 2, 2010
A Colorado State University professor is developing an anaerobic digester that turns animal waste into methane using much less water than conventional technology, making it more economically feasible and easier for use by feedlots and dairies in Western states.
Anaerobic digesters are often applied at large animal feeding operations elsewhere in the country, largely in the Midwest or on the East Coast, because of the abundance of water resources, said Sybil Sharvelle, assistant professor of civil engineering. High liquid content waste is required by existing technology to enable pumping and mixing of the waste in addition to stimulation of the growth of microorganisms that convert waste into methane.
“In the arid West, you pay for water rights, so water use is very controlled and there’s a financial motivation for producers to conserve water, which is why management practices are different,” Sharvelle said in a news release.
Sharvelle and her graduate student, Luke Loetscher, are collaborating with Fort Collins-based Stewart Environmental Consultants Inc. and the university’s Agricultural Experiment Stations to evaluate the feasibility of anaerobic digestion at Colorado feeding operations. She has an extension appointment to help tackle issues related to agricultural waste throughout the state.