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Research

Colleges and universities across the country are helping to ensure anaerobic digester systems continue to progress to become more efficient and economical. Their research includes pilot studies, evaluations, and technical assistance. Learn more about the latest research taking place at the colleges and universities listed below. To update information or to have your research added, please use the Contact Us page


Cornell University
Research Area:

  • Bioreactor performance optimization, application of digestion to new areas, and understanding the reactor microbiome dynamics through high-throughput sequencing efforts more »

Principal Investigator: Lars Angent, PhD

Major Project: Co-digestion and the effect of antibiotics on digester performance for the dairy industry. More information on this project can be found at http://angenent.bee.cornell.edu/AnaerobicDigestion.html Exit EPA Disclaimer.


Iowa State University
Research Areas:

  • Biochemical methane potential and anaerobic toxicity assays more »

Principal Investigator: Daniel Andersen

Major Project: Assay of agricultural waste substrates to determine potential methane production.

Principal Investigator: Daniel Anderson

Major Project: Plans are underway to expand work in anaerobic digestion, including research relevant to the development of farm-scale anaerobic reactors for swine facilities. Initial work will focus on lab and bench scale, but should lead to farm-scale implementation in the future.


Michigan State University
Research Areas:

  • Biochemical methane potential more »

Principal Investigators: Kirk and Safferman

Major Project: Over 350 feedstocks evaluated from around North America.

Principal Investigators: Kirk and ReGenerate Solutions, LLC

Major Project: ReGenerate CALF prototype digester for food waste.

  • On-farm anaerobic digester operation and safety training more »

Principal Investigators: Kirk, Gould, and Crook

Major Project: Handbook and classroom training.

  • Impact of thermal stability on anaerobic digester performance more »

Principal Investigator: Kirk, Tesar, and Armagan

Major Project: Nine-month study assessing the impact of sudden temperature drops on anaerobic digester performance.

  • Design and operation of the MSU research digester more »

Principal Investigators: Kirk and Liao

Major Project: 250,000 gallon plug flow digester using dairy manure, non-edible eggs and food waste as feedstock.


North Dakota State University
Research Areas:

  • Co-digestion of dairy manure and canola meals more »

Principal Investigator: Shafiqur Rahman

Major Project: Manuscript has been submitted for publication. Additional information available at: http://www.ndsu.edu/aben/department/personnel/dr_shafiqur_rahman/ Exit EPA Disclaimer

  • Dry anaerobic co-digestion of beef cattle manure and agricultural wastes more »

Principal Investigator: Shafiqur Rahman

Major Project: Research is underway.


Oklahoma State University
Research Areas:

  • Anaerobic sequencing batch reactor (ASBR) treatment of dilute swine manure more »

Principal Investigators: Douglas Hamilton, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering and Scott Carter, Animal Science

Major Projects: Farm-scale demonstration of ASBR at OSU Swine Research and Education Center. Pilot-scale reactors to investigate operational parameters. More information can be found at: http://osuwastemanage.bae.okstate.edu/ Exit EPA Disclaimer.

Description: An ASBR is a high-rate digester that efficiently converts low-strength organic matter to biogas. The ASBR retains useful microbes in the reactor by settling solids and decanting liquid before refilling. This allows for a high-throughput of material. The researchers have operated a full-scale reactor for 1.5 years. Results show an 80 percent reduction in organic matter of liquid swine manure and potential to recycle solids in waste sludge. The long-term goal of the project is to reduce odors and reduce greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions from lagoon-based manure handling, while improving nutrient recycling and energy efficiency.

  • Increased biogas production from ASBR through addition of high-energy liquids more »

Principal Investigator: Douglas W. Hamilton, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering

Major Project: Pilot-scale addition of crude glycerol. Patent applied for on the process. More information can be found at: http://osuwastemanage.bae.okstate.edu/ Exit EPA Disclaimer.

Description: Although the ASBR is highly efficient at reducing organic matter, volumetric gas yields are low due to dilute nature of wastewaters used. Fortunately, ASB reactors can easily accommodate additions of liquid co-digestion products. The investigators' current research shows a 100 to 800 percent increase in biogas yields, depending on the strength of the primary substrate and the loading rate of crude glycerol, which is a byproduct of biogas production.

  • Use of fuel cells to convert biogas to energy more »

Principal Investigator: R. Scott Frazier, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering

Major Projects: Sulfur clean-up of biogas prior to fuel-cell use using pilot-scale ASBRs. Small molten carbonate fuel cell with heat recovery (future).

Description: The conversion of biogas to electrical energy requires using conventional water-cooled piston generators and requires at least a 25-kW generator. Researchers are investigating the use of small molten carbonate fuel cells to provide more efficient energy conversion of biogas on small farms.


Purdue University
Research Area:

  • Economics of anaerobic digestion more »

Principal Investigator: Brent Gloy

Major Project: http://www.agecon.purdue.edu/commercialag/resources/sptopics/Anaerobic.html Exit EPA Disclaimer.


The Ohio State University
Research Area:

Principal Investigator: Yebo Li

Major Project: Integrated anaerobic digestion system, funded by a $2 million grant from the Ohio Third Frontier Program: http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/7078/OARDC-Anaerobic-Digestion-Technology-Now-Being-Commercialized.htm. Exit EPA Disclaimer.


University of Florida
Research Area:

  • Bioenergy and sustainable technology more »

Principal Investigator: Ann C. Wilkie, PhD

Major Project: Biogas - A Renewable Biofuel http://biogas.ifas.ufl.edu Exit EPA Disclaimer.


University of Georgia
Research Areas:

  • Fruit and vegetable anaerobic digestion more »

Principal Investigators: Gary L. Hawkins and Changying Li

Major Project: Onion Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) Project.

  • Animal waste co-digestion with fruit and vegetable waste more »

Principal Investigator: Gary L. Hawkins

Major Project: Completed project


University of Manitoba
Research Areas:

  • Co-digestion of manure and organic waste streams more »

Principal Investigator: Nazim Cicek, PhD

Major Project: Investigate co-digestion of livestock manure (dairy or hog) with organic amendments, such as distiller grains, glycerol, or potato processing waste.

  • Recovery of struvite from anaerobic digestion supernatants more »

Principal Investigator: Nazim Cicek, PhD

Major Project: Evaluate phosphorus recovery through struvite crystallization from anaerobically digested hog and dairy manure.


University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Research Area:

  • Economics of anaerobic digesters on dairy farms more »

Principal Investigator: William F. Lazarus

Major Project: No active research at the present time. An excel spreadsheet and various project papers can be found here: http://faculty.apec.umn.edu/wlazarus/interests-renewables.html Exit EPA Disclaimer.


University of Wisconsin - Platteville
Research Areas:

  • Anaerobic digestion of biobased plastic more »

Principal Investigators: Tim Zauche, PhD and David Hitchins

Major Project: The researchers test a variety of bio-based plastics that are known to compost to determine if they will undergo anaerobic digestion at mesophilic conditions.

  • Installation of digester on the university farm more »

Principal Investigators: Tim Zauche, PhD and Chris Baxter, PhD

Major Project: The investigators are trying to show that anaerobic digester systems can be made economical for smaller dairy herds of approximately 150 cows. The researchers would then monitor the digester while adding different food-waste streams.


Utah State University
Research Areas:

  • Anaerobic digestion of food waste more »

Principal Investigator: Conly Hansen, PhD, PE

Major Project: Digestion of food wastes, including grocery store organic wastes, bakery byproducts, and dairy processing wastes, in two 60-liter and two 3,780-liter induced bed reactor (IBR) anaerobic digesters.

  • Production of hydrogen anaerobically more »

Principal Investigators: Jianming Zhang, PhD student; Conly Hansen, PhD, PE; and Carl Hansen, President of HEE, Garland, UT

Major Project: Hydrogen is produced in 60-liter and 3,780-liter IBR anaerobic digesters using mostly food wastes. The goal is to produce hydrogen from food waste substrates without addition of any other chemicals.

  • Relatively small anaerobic digesters for agriculture production and processing more »

Principal Investigators: Shaun Dustin, PhD, PE, EDL, Logan, UT; Zhongtang Yu, PhD, OARDC, Wooster, OH; Jacob Dustin, PhD, PE, Consultant, Idaho Falls, ID; and Conly Hansen, PhD, PE, Logan, UT

Major Project: Relatively small IBRs are being constructed on an Alpaca farm located near Manti, Utah, as well as on a dairy at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), in Wooster, Ohio. The size of the Alpaca farm digester is 1,136 liters. The first digester at OARDC will be a 3,780-liter IBR. Additional anaerobic digesters made out of inexpensive components are being researched at OARDC in the second and third phase of the project and may be built on-site.


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)
Research Areas:

  • Enhancing on-farm biogas production more »

Principal Investigator: Jactone Arogo Ogejo

Major Project: The goal of this research is to determine practical ways to make biogas production viable for small dairy farmers. The researchers are focusing on co-digestion and identifying other ways to improve the quality and quantity of biogas produced. The investigators are examining mixes of organic residues and appropriate digester type to increase the quantity and quality of biogas production to make the energy recovery technology feasible for farmers in Virginia.

Description: The specific steps to achieve these goals include:

  1. Identify and map the sources of organic residues within and around the dairy production locations;
  2. Determine the quantities (mass and volume) and characteristics (nutrient and biodegradable organic matter content) of the organic residues identified;
  3. Conduct experiments to determine the optimum mix of dairy manure and these organic material sources that will produce the maximum quantity and quality of biogas;
  4. Determine the best digester configuration for maximum biogas production; and
  5. Conduct an economic analysis on installing a digester on a typical small dairy farm (milking less than 200 cows).
  • Evaluation of on-farm anaerobic digesters more »

Principal Investigator: Jactone Arogo Ogejo

Major Project: This work focuses on evaluating the performance of an on-farm digester operated by Dairy Energy Inc., at the Vanderhyde Dairy in Chatham, Virginia.

Description: The digester is being be evaluated with respect to waste stabilization and biogas production and utilization. The evaluation of the digester is being done according to the Association of State Energy Research and Technology Transfer Institutions (ASERTTI) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for evaluation of anaerobic digesters.

Major Project: Beyond these research projects, the investigators are committed to developing education materials for outreach programs. The education materials cover the basics of anaerobic digestion, conducting feasibility studies for anaerobic digestion, and management and maintenance of an anaerobic digester plant.

To update information or to have your research added, please send an email to agstar@epa.gov with the appropriate information.


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