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Biogas Project Review 2012

Since acquiring a $1500 grant from the Sustainability Office last winter, the biogas team has conducted extensive bucket-scale tests on the Dartmouth organic farm to experiment with different types of systems and feed stocks. The experiments provided members with ample hands-on experience and enabled us to strengthen our relationships with necessary contacts. At the end of spring term, the team visited Monument Farm in Middlebury, Vermont, which maintains a sophisticated closed energy system. The farm’s digester transforms cow manure into electricity that powers the farm and nearby neighborhoods. Seeing how an anaerobic digester system works at the industry-level gave us a clearer vision of what we would like to accomplish. This term, we obtained lab space at the Thayer Lynd Lab, which hosts numerous advanced experiments in the biomass field. We hope to take advantage of the equipment and expertise at the lab in conducting our final tests for the feed stock. At the same time, the team has been in touch with Professor Mark Laser from the Thayer School and Professor Anne Kapuscinski from the Environmental Studies department to obtain advice and support for our project.

We have two main goals for the near future. One is to complete tests and select the feed stock that we would use for the digester, which would most likely be either food waste from the Dartmouth dining halls or horse manure from the Dartmouth horse farm. The second is to materialize designs into a small scale digester that we would use to produce methane gas starting winter term. Ultimately, we aspire to utilize the biogas technology to reduce organic waste at Dartmouth, either at the dining halls or the horse farm, and use these wastes to improve sustainability at the College.

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