From cow flop to kilowatts

RICKREALL -- Louie Kazmier is going to turn poop into power.

Rickreall dairyman's biomass

powerplant goes online soon

RICKREALL -- Louie Kazmier is going to turn poop into power.

For nearly five years the Rickreall Dairy owner has been chasing down grants and corporate backers to fund a biomass generator on a six-acre corner of his farm. Now he is close to having the project in operation.

"There will be 16 white tanks, 32 feet high," Kazmier said. "For four to six days the organic matter will sit in the bottom of the tanks, and we'll capture the methane off the top."

That methane will be forced through a scrubber and then fed into a generator that will produce 900 kilowatts of electricity. Kazmier said that it is enough energy to power about 1,000 homes.

He isn't sure yet if he'll use the energy "off the grid" or sell it to the power company for renewable energy credits. Either way, the generator will provide non-fossil-based, renewable energy for Oregon consumers.

It will also provide Kazmier with new revenue.

"This is so cutting edge, and I believe the dairy industry, as well as the pork and poultry industry, are going to start moving in this direction, Kazmier said.

The start-up cost for one of these systems is $5 million to $6 million. Kazmier said that most of the money came from low-interest loans from the federal Department of Energy.

He also said all of that money will go back into the local economy. He plans to use local contractors to build the plant, and once it is running it will create three new full-time jobs.

Kazmier is also looking at reverse osmosis machine that pulls the nitrogen and phosphorous out of the liquid left in the tanks. He'll then sell the product to organic nurseries in place of fertilizer.

Kazmier said the manure water will be almost clean enough to drink once it has been pumped out of his lagoon into the digester tanks, and run through the reverse osmosis machine.

"It's going to literally be using every nutrient in this stuff that would normally go into the lagoon on out onto my fields," Kazmier said.

Local fruit packing plants have been in contact with Kazmier about providing him with sugar biproducts from their processing. Kazmier said adding a little bit of sugar to the tanks drives up the methane production considerably.

According to the Department of Energy, the biomass industry is one of the United States' most important energy resources. Biomass is an umbrella term that the agency uses to describe everything form diary digesters to enthonol production plants.

Kazmier said if there aren't any huge setbacks, the Rickreall dairy digester will be producing electricity by February 1, 2007.

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