Progressive Dairy – October 1, 2020
By Maura Keller

Cows, with their four-chambered stomachs, have always been models of digestive proficiency, as anyone who’s dodged cow pies in a pasture can attest. These grazing bovines and other livestock produce thousands of pounds of manure daily.

Energy conservation, coupled with the concern for the management of livestock waste, has revived an interest in generating biogas from livestock manure. As such, two key initiatives surrounding anaerobic digester clusters have garnered the attention of dairy farmers across the country.

Making inroads in biogas

In 2016, Calgren and its digester developer, Maas Energy Works, first approached dairies with the idea of using their manure to create biogas transportation fuel. Calgren has numerous dairy farmer neighbors, many of whom are also customers for the company’s wet distillers grain.

As Calgren president Lyle Schlyer explains, the main driver behind the program is California’s Low Carbon Fuels Standard, which incentivizes fuel suppliers to lower carbon intensity. Calgren already produced low-carbon ethanol using a highly efficient process. By using cow gas to offset some of its pipeline natural gas, Calgren’s goal was to produce ethanol with an even lower carbon score.

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