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UWO partnership with Agra Energy yields new gas-to-liquids facility

UWO partnership with Agra Energy yields new gas-to-liquids facility
On October 17, 2022, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at Dairyland Farm in New Franken to mark the start of the construction of Agra Energy's novel "Micro GTL" technology that converts biogas into renewable diesel fuel (photo courtesy UWO).

In the United States (US), the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (UWO) has recently launched a new effort with biogas partner Agra Energy Corporation (Agra Energy) to build the State of Wisconsin’s first commercial facility to turn dairy farm biogas into renewable diesel using a proprietary gas-to-liquids (GtL) technology.

The US$20 million facility, located at Dairyland Farm in New Franken, will use Agra Energy’s pioneering Micro GTL (gas-to-liquid) technology to convert biogas into an estimated 750 000 (US) gallons (≈ 2.84 million litres) of renewable diesel.

The operation is expected to be up and running as early as January 2023.

It feels good to partner with a company committed to and invested in helping Wisconsin dairy farmers advance and scale up the technology to convert farm waste into renewable fuels. We are seeing the future in this project, and we are proud and grateful that our collaboration with Agra Energy gives UWO biogas experts the continued opportunity to demonstrate our own commitment to sustainability and the Wisconsin Idea, said UWO Chancellor Andy Leavitt said.

Tony Long, Agra Energy’s President, and Chief Technology Officer said the company is grateful for UWO administration’s support of the biogas technology program.

Your vision to create a support structure for green technologies has been critical to setting the foundation for this commercial technology, Tony Long said.

A good fit

Brian Langolf, UWO biogas systems and research development director, said the new micro gas-to-liquid (GTL) conversion technology is a good fit to harness the renewable energy potential of Wisconsin’s dairy industry to help decarbonize transportation fuel and work toward energy independence.

UW Oshkosh has been building a relationship with the startup Agra Energy since 2017 and began working to demonstrate the GTL process in 2019 at the small-scale Allen Farm digester site in northwestern Winnebago County.

Agra Energy is working with DVO to install an anaerobic digester (AD) designed with patented technology to convert dairy waste to renewable biofuel.

As we were pulling together key technology elements, we knew we needed to have a pilot system to allow us to test all the steps together. With the help of the UWO team and several great students who signed up to work with us, we had the first fuel running from the system in May 2020, said Tony Long.

The public-private partnership between UWO and Agra was highlighted in the October 2021 UW System Board of Regents meeting hosted by UWO.

We continue to support ongoing research testing at UWO, always looking to improve results. We also plan additional technology pieces that will increase the ability to process the complete manure stream and increase the fuel yield from the farm, Tony Long added.

Not only does the new project expand UWO’s research interests in sustainability, but it also provides additional hands-on experience for UWO students to learn about biogas systems.

Long said the new facility at Dairyland already employs three UW Oshkosh alumni with a fourth new graduate expected to join the team in December.

We view this partnership as providing a consistent pipeline for employing students from UW Oshkosh and other UW System schools, ended Tony Long.

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