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As a leader and partner in building a strong and sustainable northeastern Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh will dedicate a first-of-its-kind commercial-scale dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester on Wednesday, May 18 at 755 Dempsey Trail, adjacent to the Campus Services Center.

The renewable energy facility includes heat and power generators, which will initially produce up to 5 percent of the campus’s electricity and heat. The majority of the 8,000 tons of organic bio-waste needed per year will be provided by campus and community sources with the remainder being supplied from other area partners.

Unlike wet biodigesters that use outdoor ponds and run on manure or sewage, UW Oshkosh’s dry biodigester will resemble an indoor composting site with air filters to remove adverse smells.

“This is definitely exciting for the university. It’s really great because UW Oshkosh is really into sustainability and we’re going to have the first system of this type in the United States,” said Brian Langolf, manager at UW Oshkosh’s Aquatic Research Lab, who has been part of the university team overseeing the biodigester’s development. “From a campus standpoint, it’s going to give various research opportunities to students. For the community down the road, we want to take as much food waste from as close as possible and put it into the digester to create energy.”

A glimpse inside UW Oshkosh's biodigester facility as construction continued in April.

The biodigester project is a collaborative effort with the UW Oshkosh Foundation, which purchased the land, and will be partially funded with a grant of $232,587 from Wisconsin Focus on Energy and a $500,000 grant from the federal government.

UW Oshkosh leaders and project partners broke ground on the project on Sept. 15, 2010. Boldt Construction and BIOFerm Energy Systems constructed the building throughout the winter and into this spring.

Other innovative campus projects and sustainability efforts will be highlighted on May 18. Events include tours of the campus’ renewable energy facilities, a keynote luncheon address by Chancellor Richard Wells and breakout sessions with university experts in business, local government and education. The schedule of public events is as follows:

  • 9-9:45 a.m. – Introduction and Dedication of Biodigester Plant, 755 Dempsey Trail
  • 10-11 a.m. – Biodigester “Crash Course” by Nadeem Afghan of BIOFerm
  • 11-11:45 a.m. – Tour of renewable energy sites on UW Oshkosh campus
  • 12-1:15 p.m. – Lunch and Keynote address at Student Recreation and Wellness Center
  • 1:15-2 p.m. – Panel Discussion
  • 2-3 p.m. – Breakout sessions: Sustainability in Business, Sustainability in Municipalities, Sustainability in Education and Community Outreach

UW Oshkosh is among the greenest universities in the country, having been recognized by The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges and ranked 35th nationally on Sierra Magazine’s Cool Schools list.

In 2006, the campus was one of four selected by the governor to work toward energy independence. A comprehensive Sustainability Plan was adopted in 2008 with goals for energy efficiency and alternative energy. In 2009, following carbon-footprint studies conducted by Johnson Controls and university staff, the University established one of the nation’s most aggressive Climate Action Plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.

For more information on UW Oshkosh’s biodigester, visit

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