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Vilsack Tours Ohio Advanced Bioenergy Facility

20 July 2010
USDA

US – US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week toured Quasar Energy Group, in Wooster, Ohio, to see firsthand new technologies being used to generate larger supplies of biogas derived from cellulosic biomass, such as yard trimmings and crop residue.

The USDA, along with the State of Ohio, provided funding to support the development of the new facility.

"I commend the leadership in Ohio for developing a prototype to reduce greenhouse gases and landfill disposal while offering the promise of significant increases in the production of renewable energy from this effort," said Secretary Vilsack.

"USDA's partner financing to support this facility goes to the heart of the Obama Administration's commitment to reduce America's dependence on foreign sources of energy."

Secretary Vilsack noted that USDA provided $1.3 million in Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) funding and nearly $90,000 through a National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant.

The funding was used to install an anaerobic digester that processes 25,000 wet tons per year of organic biomass to generate 20,404MMbtu per year or an equivalent 4.2 million kWh per year.

The digester uses food wastes from local food producers, crop residuals, grass and manure from livestock operations of the Ohio State University-Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI). Based on its electric generation capacity, this biodigester can supply roughly one-third of the electricity needs of the Ohio Agricultural Research & Development Center (OARDC) campus.

Anaerobic digester technology is a proven method of converting waste products, such as manure, into electricity. The technology uses generators that are fueled by methane captured from farm animal manure. Currently, only about two per cent of US dairies that are candidates for a profitable digester are using the technology.

Dairy operations with anaerobic digesters routinely generate enough electricity to power 200 homes.

Authorised under the 2008 Farm Bill, USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides grants for energy audits and renewable energy development assistance.

It also provides funds to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.

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