On February 10th, Calgren Ethanol Bioregister launched its new manure-to-energy plant in the small town of Pixley, Tulare County, 60 miles South of Fresno.  Harnessing the power of poop is how this future thinking company is helping California meet its clean energy goals.  It is the first digester (a sealed container where the biological digestion of animal manure can occur and biogas is formed) to be designed as a “closed loop and zero waste system” – meaning it provides its own energy to run itself.

The location of this plant is logical since Tulare County is the largest dairy producing county in the USA.  Tapping into the ready supply of manure waste from the dairy farms, the plant operates much like a cow’s stomach,  bacteria that is naturally produced in a cow’s stomach is added to the manure and then it is churned in the digester for 22 days to eliminate any harmful pathogens (like e.coli).  The end result is liquid extracted from the process supplies farmers water for their crops; sanitary animal bedding for the farm animals, and the full conversion of the nasty greenhouse gas, Methane, into cleaner burning biogas.

cow-manure-energy“Electricity (to power cars) and hydrogen are getting a lot of media attention these days as the fuels of the future. But it is the workhouse plants like this Calgren facility that reduce the carbon content of our fuel supply,” said Jim McKinney, a project manager for CEC’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program.

This launch is the result of years of preparation by a coalition of several companies and $1.4 million in funding from the California Energy Commission.  The new anaerobic digester tanks were designed by DVO of Wisconsion, and built by Washington based contractor Regenis.  The operation of the plant is in the hands of Calgren Renewable Fuels and they expect to produce 58 million gallons of ethanol annual which is enough to fuel 145,000 cars a year.


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