Our renewable energy research program focuses on developing technologies to recover energy and chemicals from agricultural wastes, byproducts and underutilized crops. Our goal is to develop technologies that increase sustainability by capturing as much energy as possible from renewable sources.
We are developing several strategies to generate energy from would-be waste products and underutilized crops and byproducts. Specifically, we are investigating how we can generate energy sources from the waste manure from SROC swine production facilities as well as from the biomass crops grown at the SROC.
One area of our research focuses on multistage biogas production. We utilize the anaerobic fermentation/digestion processes to first produce a hydrogen gas and then a methane gas from swine manure. We also experiment with how to use the residue from that methane production to further recover nitrogen and phosphorus from the waste into a slow-release fertilizer called struvite.
Liquid plasma technologies represent another major focus of our work. These technologies provide opportunities for efficient energy production through continuous processing of products and a processing time that is 1,000 times faster than traditional methods. We’ve developed a liquid plasma process for biodiesel synthesis and are testing its possible applications. In addition to soybean oil, we are experimenting with using alternative feedstocks, like oils and byproducts, to produce biofuel.