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Steve Haak with worker Jose Flavio in the milking room at the Vander Haak dairy farm, the first in the nation to us an anaerobic digester to turn manure into methane in Lynden, Washington, on Wednesday, March 1, 2006...The Vander Haak dairy is the first in the state of Washington to use an anaerobic digester to turn dairy cow manure into sterile compost, liquid fertilizer, and methane gas which is burned to generate electricity. The 4,500 gallon per-day digester can processes the waste of 1500 cows from three farms in a 22 day cycle. 58 percent of gas produced is methane which powers a modified Caterpillar engine to produce 300 Kilowatts with a 'parasitic load' of 15 Kilowatts, meaning the process consumes 15 Kilowatts, for a net of 285 Kilowatts which are sold onto the power grid as 'green' renewable energy. This is enough to power 180 average homes...According to a report by Washington State University, a co-funder of the digester, there are approximately 600 dairy farms in Washington state with 250,000 dairy cows. If half of those cows' waste were processed in a digester, 25 megawatts of 'green' electricity could be produced annually...The compost is used on the farm as bedding and is sold commercially. The sterile fertilizer is used on the farm's corn and hay fields which feed the cows. Both help to mitigate the volume of waste produced by dairy farms which is often stored in open air lagoons, creating odor problems and water quality concerns...The anaerobic digester is a product of a partnership between Vander Haak Dairy, Andgar Corporation, Whatcom County, Puget Sound Energy, USDA Rural Development, Washington State University, and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.
- © Copyright 2006 Tim Matsui, All Rights Reserved
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