Final Report for ENC11-122

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2011: $67,878.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Robert Broz
University of Missouri Extension
Co-Coordinators:
Dr. Hamed El-Mashad
Lincoln University
Dr. Majed Dweik
Lincoln University
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Project Information

Abstract:

The project has been completed successfully. The design and assembly of a hybrid alternative energy generating system by coupling bioreactor and photovoltaic system was demonstrated in two workshops. The outcome of the research and assembly of the hybrid system was shared in two workshops. The workshops were held at Lincoln University and University of Missouri facilities as well as collaborators farms. In those workshops, the audience experienced varsity of talks about alternative energy and Bioenergy from very knowledgeable speakers in those areas. Part of the workshop was also visiting verity of alternative and Bioenergy energy generating sites at both universities. There were different speakers and participants in both workshops. The participants were asked to fill out a survey to determine the level if increase of knowledge in those different areas. The overall participation and feedback from participants were excellent. The PI and the collaborators are working on sustaining the program by offering educational and demonstration sessions for farmers and extension.

Project Objectives:

The objective of this project is to design and offer two workshops, each of three days’ duration, on the role of alternative energy in sustainable agriculture. The specific objective is to educate farmers’ educators about the utilization of solar energy and the production and utilization of biogas on the farm. The workshops will be offered to farmers’ educators. Forty farmers’ educators will be invited to each workshop for training.

Introduction:

Sustainability is a dynamic process that preserves the environment through proper use of natural resources. Energy is a major input in agriculture. Solar and biomass energy sources can make sustainable farming possible. There is, however, a need for dissemination of information to increase public awareness in the rural communities about the importance of alternative energy use on farms. The adaption of alternative energy technologies by farmers depends on farmers’ knowledge of the availability and the profitability of techniques. The objective of this project is to design and offer two workshops, each of three days’ duration, on utilization of solar energy and the production and utilization of biogas on a farm. The workshops will be offered to farmers’ educators. The workshops will introduce the participants to the basic concepts of capturing and utilization of solar and biogas energies on farms. The workshops will cover the economic and environmental benefits of generation and utilization of alternative energy and the necessity of using these sources in achieving sustainable agriculture. Different designs of solar collection systems and biogas digesters will be presented. The participants will be involved in hands-on operation of solar collectors and biogas digesters. Forty participants will be invited to attend each workshop. A web page will be developed for this project. After 18 months from the end of each workshop, a one-day wrap-up meeting will be held to share experiences and achievements of the participants.

Cooperators

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  • Dr. Bob Broz

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

Methods

The PI and his team of this project designedand offered two workshops, each of three days’ duration, on utilization of solar energy and the production and utilization of biogas on a farm. The workshops were offered to farmers’ educators. The workshops were to introduce the participants to the basic concepts of capturing and utilization of solar and biogas energies on farms. The workshops covered the economic and environmental benefits of generation and utilization of alternative energy and the necessity of using these sources in achieving sustainable agriculture. Different designs of solar collection systems and biogas digesters were presented. The participants wre involved in hands-on operation of solar collectors and biogas digesters. Forty participants were invited to attend each workshop. A web page was developed for this project. After 18 months from the end of each workshop, a one-day wrap-up survay was conducted to share experiences and achievements of the participants.

Outreach and Publications

The PI and collaborators are working with extension and farmers to promote utilization of alternative energy. The data from this project is currently used for further USDA research to improve photovoltaic cells.  The PI is working on a novel and more efficient design of photovoltaic cells by using nanomaterials which will reduce the size of the energy storage and allow the solar system to be mobile.

Outcomes and impacts:

The invited speakers and trainers had shared the importance of application of alternative energy resources in realizing sustainable agriculture was disseminated via presenting the theoretical knowledge and applied examples. The environmental and economic benefits of biogas and solar energy were presented to the participants who will be out and share that knowledge with the end users. Participants will be able to teach farmers about anaerobic digestion and solar energy systems. They will also be able to teach farmers about biogas project permitting issues.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

  1. The installation of a pilot scale anaerobic digestion system and solar heating and a photovoltaic system were completed and were operated. This anaerobic digester has a total volume of 165 gallon. It was used as teaching and demonstration tool. The system has been operating at mesophilic conditions (35oC) to treat animal manure. The system is mixed with liquid recirculation through three nozzles that are installed in the reactor bottom. The digester is connected to a vacuum tube solar heating system to provide the thermal energy needed to operate the system. A temperature controller is installed in the digester. A water pump is installed to provide hot water from the solar heating system to the digester. The system has a timer to control the operation of the water and recirculation pumps. The system has a data logger to monitor the temperature in different points on the system. A photovoltaic system was also installed as a model for teaching and training purposes. An inverter and batteries set were purchased and connected to the photovoltaic system. 
  2. Offering the first workshop The first workshop was held successfully Tuesday, August 28 through Thursday, August 30, 2012, Carver Farm 3804 Bald Hill Road, Jefferson City, Missouri. Twenty five farmer educators from Missouri attended the workshop. In addition to the PI and Co-PI’S, twelve speakers from different universities, anaerobic digestion industry and Department of Natural Resource (NRD) were invited to give up to date information on anaerobic digestion, solar energy, and wind energy. Two farmers were also invited to share their prospective on renewable energy application on farms. During the first two days of the workshop several lectures were given. On the third day, there was a field trip to a farm that has a watering system that is operated with solar energy. Moreover, demonstrations and hands-on experiences on solar heating, photovoltaic anaerobic digestion and biomass pyrolysis were also presented on the third day.
  3. Development of A Website for This Project A website is being developed for this project. The website has useful information and links to the topics covered during the workshop. https://bluetigerportal.lincolnu.edu/web/nanotech/sare
  4. The offering of the second workshop. The second workshop was held successfully Tuesday, May 7ththrough Thursday May the 9th, 2013, Carver Farm 3804 Bald Hill Road, Jefferson City, Missouri and MU Bradford and South Farm at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Twenty five farmer educators from Missouri attended the workshop. In addition to the PI and Co-PI’S, twelve speakers from different universities, anaerobic digestion industry and Department of Natural Resources were invited to give lecture and demonstration about various topics such as anaerobic digestion, solar energy, and wind energy. During the first two days of the workshop several lectures were given. On the third day, there was a field trip to Busby farm at Lincoln University and the MU Bradford and South Farm Research and Extension Centers at University of Missouri-Columbia. Moreover, demonstrations and hands-on experiences on solar heating, composting, photovoltaic anaerobic digestion, and biomass pyrolysis were also presented on the third day.
  5. The PI and the collaborators are working on educational materials and demonstration for alternative energy to share with farmers and extension educators. 

Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

The PI and the collaborators are working on sustainability of this program by designing educational materials to offer to educators and farmers.

Future Recommendations

This program allowed us to look into optimization of the hybrid system built. If the SARE can provide a program to continue the research by utilizing the data collected this will impact the sustainability of the work. 

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.