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Biofuel research focuses on manure, August 7th

The race to create a better, less controversial biofuel has spawned plenty of research into a variety of potential new sources - including switchgrass, corn stalks and algae

One goal behind the next generation of ethanol fuel is to end the debate over whether crops that could be used for food or animal feed are being converted into fuel. It's a debate that's dogged traditional ethanol, made from corn. A team of Wisconsin researchers say they may have found an abundant and eminently ingredient for ethanol - cow manure from the state's dairy farms.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a coalition of state firms have been awarded $7 million for bioenergy research that would use a manure byproduct to produce ethanol at a dairy farm in Manitowoc County, Wis.
The funding was awarded by the U.S. Energy and Agriculture departments through their joint biomass research-and-development initiative.
- We are going to change agriculture and the dairy industry in Wisconsin, said Aicardo Roa Espinosa, founder of Soil Net LLC, a biological systems technology firm that has patents for its polymer research and development. The key is to break down manure into different fibers. One type would be used for bedding, another for fertilizer pellets, and yet another for biofuels.
- Our idea is to put a small refinery on a dairy farm, Roa Espinosa said.
- The key to all of this is the custom polymer formulas that Aicardo creates, said John Norman, professor in the UW department of soil science. He creates these formulas that allow this manure to be separated and sorts it into these different components, and these different components have value - lots of value.


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