Researchers in New Mexico are working on a different process to convert organic material, like manure or municipal waste, into something more useful.
The machinery acts as a dry digester. The patent, received in 2009 by New Mexico State University civil engineering professors Zohrab Samani and Adrian Hanson, is for the design of a digester that would convert organic waste, such as food waste, municipal waste or household garbage, into an energy source and soil amendment.
One agricultural industry in New Mexico could provide an ample source of energy for the state. Recently, New Mexico dairy farmers have come under scrutiny over their disposal methods for manure. The industry itself is a vital source of income for the state, which ranks seventh in the nation for milk production and first in herd size.
To put this into perspective, New Mexico has more than 300,000 cows. With the average cow producing 18 gallons of manure a day, New Mexico alone accumulates roughly 5.5 million gallons of manure a day.
Samani’s dry digestor has the potential to utilize the tremendous amount of waste accumulated and dispose of it in a manner that would be clean and energy efficient. These benefits include the production of pathogen-free compost, high nitrogen compost, no odor and the capture and use of methane.
Receiving the patent will now provide Samani with the opportunity to build an intermediate system within a year that will be used primarily for developing design scale-up relationships. It will act as a model for a large scale production that would have the capacity to convert such tremendous amounts of waste.
Source: New Mexico State University