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PAMI to build, test anaerobic digester

The Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI) will use a federal investment of $350,000 to build a pilot-scale anaerobic digester for potential use in generating energy from livestock wastes.

Through its Applied Bioenergy Centre (ABC), PAMI plans to use its digester to evaluate the feasibility of livestock operators and/or municipal landfills producing their own sustainable energy sources from animal waste or household garbage.

Feedlot operator/ethanol producer Pound-Maker Agventures at Lanigan, Sask., will work with PAMI at nearby Humboldt to provide agri-industry feedstock for the digester. PAMI’s Western Beef Development Centre will also work to provide additional feedstock for the digester, the government said.

The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC), meanwhile, will design the biogas demonstration system, the government said.

“The results of the project could enable planned bioethanol and biodiesel projects to proceed more quickly and create additional jobs in rural Saskatchewan,” the federal government said Friday.

“Though there is a great potential in this technology, producers and agri-industry need to have questions answered before they decide to make investments,” PAMI vice-president Jim Wassermann said in the government’s release.

“This research will allow PAMI to help them with those decisions and, in so doing, deliver on our mandate of applying technology for agriculture.”

Biodigesters are used to convert waste materials, such as manure, straw, household garbage or byproducts from barns or feedlots, into biogas suitable for energy production. The gases produced, primarily methane and carbon dioxide, can be converted to energy, while the spent feedstock can be put to use on farmland as compost.

According to PAMI, this research project is meant to determine the financial viability of municipalities, intensive livestock operations and/or individual cattle and hog operators using solids-content anaerobic digesters to produce their own sources of clean energy for home heating, or for powering electrical grids.

Ottawa’s $350,000 investment, which will flow through Western Economic Diversification, is slated for purchase of materials and supplies and for contracting of “technical expertise.”

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