With a grant from the California Energy Commission, Fiscalini hopes to do the research on co-digestion and prove that this won’t happen. But, he says he has been asking permission for more than six months and it doesn’t look promising. If Fiscalini Farms could bring in outside materials for co-digestion, it could produce enough energy to bring in an extra $15,000 per month.
Fiscalini is looking at reducing emissions and air pollution even further with the advent of a new research project. “Some people think it’s a good thing we’ve captured all of our methane,” says Fiscalini. But there is one regulatory agency in California that doesn’t care if the methane goes into the environment because the engine produces nitrogen oxide or NOx, an ozone precursor. “Realistically, what we’ve done is taken 25,000 automobiles off the road and added one diesel truck. This regulatory agency doesn’t like the truck.”
As a solution, Fiscalini Farms is going to install a system that will take the exhaust from the engine and the heat from the engine to grow algae, which should reduce the NOx and clean up the environment more than the dairy already has. This will be the first algae system of its kind installed on a dairy farm in the U.S.
From the algae system, Fiscalini has three potential by-products: livestock feed, more food for the digester and the ability to compress the algae to make oil which can be made into biodiesel. The biodiesel option, he says, seems to be the most promising, but also the most expensive.
“It would be really fun to say that we don’t buy electricity, we don’t buy propane, and we don’t buy diesel fuel," he adds.
A lot of people talk about doing the right thing, saving energy and reducing greenhouse gases, but here’s a dairy farm that has stepped up to the plate and is trying to do the right thing, yet has been met with opposition at every turn. It makes you wonder about the environmental regulators. Perhaps they should take a lesson from Fiscalini Farms and start walking the talk.
Fiscalini discusses the new algae project in this video.