The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is undergoing an era of collaboration that, simply put, turns waste—true waste, like food scraps, lawn clippings and even cow manure—into energy and learning.
First, there was the first-in-the-Americas dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester located on Witzel Avenue that produces actual energy from food waste (including waste collected from Reeve Memorial Union), yard waste and crop residuals. Then, in late 2011, a small farm biodigester named Titan 55 was conceived and planned for the 150-head, family-owned Allen Farm; the biodigester there turns its waste into energy.
And now, the planning for a second, large-scale biodigester (nicknamed BD2) with energy innovators the Viessmann Group is underway at Wisconsin’s largest dairy farm, Milk Source’s Rosendale Dairy.
Once operational, BD2 will turn the farm’s livestock manure waste into energy while simultaneously creating an on-site lab for energy scientists at UW Oshkosh. The process involves anaerobic digestion, the bacterial decomposition of organic matter that occurs in the absence of oxygen. In the odor-controlled environment of the biodigester, the gas produced is safely combusted and turned into electricity. The revenues that will come from the energy’s return to the grid will advance UW Oshkosh’s operations and educational mission. A groundbreaking will be held in late spring.
“In Wisconsin, education and agriculture go hand in hand. Partnering with the UW Oshkosh Foundation and UW Oshkosh to help turn modern agriculture into energy in such a cutting-edge way is exciting for Rosendale Dairy and the state’s dairy and ag industries,” said Jim Ostrom, co-founder and partner of Milk Source. “This is an extension of a long-formed bond between education and farming in this state. This project is a testament to the type of innovative thinking and practices we strive for on a daily basis.”
Once completed, Rosendale Dairy will be home to one of Wisconsin’s most dynamic research, renewable energy production and public education facilities in the state, said UW Oshkosh Foundation President Arthur H. Rathjen.
“This is a multifaceted win for our students and the state of Wisconsin, and it is the kind of innovative, entrepreneurial project the UW Oshkosh Foundation believes is essential to the future of our thriving institution,” Rathjen said. “We’re
addressing a real need for real people.”
To learn more about collaborations and partnerships at UW Oshkosh, visit the UW Oshkosh Foundation website.