Fiscalini Farms Biomass Energy Project

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In this final report describes and documents research that was conducted by the Ecological Engineering Research Program (EERP) at the University of the Pacific (Stockton, CA) under subcontract to Fiscalini Farms LP for work under the Assistance Agreement DE-EE0001895 'Measurement and Evaluation of a Dairy Anaerobic Digestion/Power Generation System' from the United States Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory. Fiscalini Farms is operating a 710 kW biomass-energy power plant that uses bio-methane, generated from plant biomass, cheese whey, and cattle manure via mesophilic anaerobic digestion, to produce electricity using an internal combustion engine. The primary objectives of the project ... continued below

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Stringfellow, William; Camarillo, Mary Kay; Hanlon, Jeremy; Jue, Michael & Spier, Chelsea September 30, 2011.

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Description

In this final report describes and documents research that was conducted by the Ecological Engineering Research Program (EERP) at the University of the Pacific (Stockton, CA) under subcontract to Fiscalini Farms LP for work under the Assistance Agreement DE-EE0001895 'Measurement and Evaluation of a Dairy Anaerobic Digestion/Power Generation System' from the United States Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory. Fiscalini Farms is operating a 710 kW biomass-energy power plant that uses bio-methane, generated from plant biomass, cheese whey, and cattle manure via mesophilic anaerobic digestion, to produce electricity using an internal combustion engine. The primary objectives of the project were to document baseline conditions for the anaerobic digester and the combined heat and power (CHP) system used for the dairy-based biomass-energy production. The baseline condition of the plant was evaluated in the context of regulatory and economic constraints. In this final report, the operation of the plant between start-up in 2009 and operation in 2010 are documented and an interpretation of the technical data is provided. An economic analysis of the biomass energy system was previously completed (Appendix A) and the results from that study are discussed briefly in this report. Results from the start-up and first year of operation indicate that mesophilic anaerobic digestion of agricultural biomass, combined with an internal combustion engine, is a reliable source of alternative electrical production. A major advantage of biomass energy facilities located on dairy farms appears to be their inherent stability and ability to produce a consistent, 24 hour supply of electricity. However, technical analysis indicated that the Fiscalini Farms system was operating below capacity and that economic sustainability would be improved by increasing loading of feedstocks to the digester. Additional operational modifications, such as increased utilization of waste heat and better documentation of potential of carbon credits, would also improve the economic outlook. Analysis of baseline operational conditions indicated that a reduction in methane emissions and other greenhouse gas savings resulted from implementation of the project. The project results indicate that using anaerobic digestion to produce bio-methane from agricultural biomass is a promising source of electricity, but that significant challenges need to be addressed before dairy-based biomass energy production can be fully integrated into an alternative energy economy. The biomass energy facility was found to be operating undercapacity. Economic analysis indicated a positive economic sustainability, even at the reduced power production levels demonstrated during the baseline period. However, increasing methane generation capacity (via the importation of biomass codigestate) will be critical for increasing electricity output and improving the long-term economic sustainability of the operation. Dairy-based biomass energy plants are operating under strict environmental regulations applicable to both power-production and confined animal facilities and novel approached are being applied to maintain minimal environmental impacts. The use of selective catalytic reduction (SCR) for nitrous oxide control and a biological hydrogen sulfide control system were tested at this facility. Results from this study suggest that biomass energy systems can be compliant with reasonable scientifically based air and water pollution control regulations. The most significant challenge for the development of biomass energy as a viable component of power production on a regional scale is likely to be the availability of energy-rich organic feedstocks. Additionally, there needs to be further development of regional expertise in digester and power plant operations. At the Fiscalini facility, power production was limited by the availability of biomass for methane generation, not the designed system capacity. During the baseline study period, feedstocks included manure, sudan grass silage, and refused-feed. The ability of the dairy to produce silage in excess of on-site feed requirements limited power production. The availability of biomass energy crops and alternative feedstocks, such as agricultural and food wastes, will be a major determinant to the economic and environmental sustainability of biomass based electricity production.

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  • Report No.: None
  • Grant Number: EE0001895
  • DOI: 10.2172/1029461 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1029461
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc836438

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  • September 30, 2011

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • Nov. 28, 2016, 4:35 p.m.

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Stringfellow, William; Camarillo, Mary Kay; Hanlon, Jeremy; Jue, Michael & Spier, Chelsea. Fiscalini Farms Biomass Energy Project, report, September 30, 2011; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc836438/: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.