Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana Harnesses Unique Form of Renewable Energy: Manure

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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A dairy farm in Fair Oaks, Ind., has been using manure to power the 42 tractor-trailers it uses to deliver milk.

While the concept of using manure for renewable energy has been around a while, Fair Oaks Farm has made a giant leap with compressed natural gas (CNG). They installed a $12 million anaerobic digester on their property that converts manure from their pigs and cows into CNG.

"As long as we keep milking cows, we never run out of gas," Fair Oaks Farm CEO Gary Corbett told the New York Times.

The CNG is pumped to two fueling stations for trucks and there is enough left over to power the farm’s barns, offices, gift shop and cheese factory.

"We're self sufficient and we're lowering our carbon footprint,” said Corbett.

One of the biggest dairy farms in the country, Fair Oaks Farm sits on 30,000 acres.

"We take the manure from the cows and put it into sealed digester vessels, the manure is heated to 100 degrees at which the bacteria produces methane and CO2, which is called biogas. The Biogas is cleaned to remove the CO2, using water and pressure to create biomethane, which is then odorized to create renewable natural gas," explained Mark Stoermann of AMP Americas, an energy company that partnered with Fair Oaks Farm to make CNG.

“With renewable natural gas, using organic waste like we’re doing here, there really is an unlimited supply as long as we continue to produce waste products and are able to digest them and convert them into energy,” Stoermann said.

The project was partially funded by grants through the Indiana American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Indiana Office of Energy Development.

Because biofuel burns cleanly, the farm has lowered its CO2 emissions.

"We were running all these diesel trucks and we began to look at the potential of replacing all that diesel with natural gas. Then we figured out how to create our own natural gas instead of buying the diesel, so it saves us a lot of money, lowers emissions and helps clean up air quality in the cities where the trucks deliver" Corbett said.

Soermann says AMP Americas is working with dairy producers and other industries to get 14 more fueling stations built this year.

Sources: Mother Nature Network, Fox News