The Alberta Research Council (ARC) and Highmark Renewables have marked the official opening of a new pilot plant at Highland Feeders, one of Canada's largest feedlot operations. The plant demonstrates new technology developed jointly by ARC and Highmark Renewables to transform manure into energy, bio-based fertilizers and reusable water, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts associated with land application of manure.
The Integrated Manure Utilization System, or IMUS, combines anaerobic digestion, biogas utilization, liquid/solid separation, nutrient recovery and enrichment processes. Methane gas produced through anaerobic digestion is used to generate green power and heat. Innovative, highly efficient processes recover and concentrate nutrients from the digested liquid to produce pathogen-free bio-based fertilizers. Water recovered from this process is used for irrigation purposes.
"The IMUS project is another example of Canada's leadership in developing innovative approaches to climate change and sustainable development," says Dr. Stephen Morgan Jones, speaking on behalf of the Honourable Andy Mitchell, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable R. John Efford, Minister of Natural Resources Canada, and the Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of the Environment. "The Government of Canada is proud to be a partner in a project with many far-reaching benefits, such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions, increased use of renewable energy sources and a strong and diverse agricultural industry. "
"It's very exciting to be on the leading edge of new technology that can generate multiple benefits to Canada's agriculture industry," says Mike Kotelko, vice president of Highland Feeders and manager of Highmark Renewables. "Manure, second to beef in value, is the most important output of our operation in terms of social, economic and environmental sustainability.
"After four years of development, we are pleased to be operating our pilot plant," says Kotelko. "We've been able to demonstrate that this process works in a tough outdoor environment, involving extreme temperature fluctuations, and with a raw material -- high-solid manure -- that, in itself, presents many challenges. Our goal is to continue to refine this process to fit different scales and types of livestock operations and food processing industries. IMUS sets a new standard in how we use waste streams. It provides industry with value-added opportunities and fulfills our commitment to resolving social and environmental issues."
"This project is a significant development in the field of renewable resource technologies," says John McDougall, president and CEO of ARC. "Companies such as Highland Feeders are constantly being challenged to operate in an environmentally sustainable fashion and to be socially responsible. At the same time, they need to be economically viable to survive. IMUS technology exploits the energetic and nutritive benefits of manure in the form of energy, bio-fertilizer and irrigable water. As an added benefit, the technology also supports improved practices in manure management related to surface and groundwater contamination, odours, dust and emission of greenhouse gases."
ARC is currently adapting this technology to include other biomass sources, such as liquid manure, food-processing waste, livestock mortalities, rendering materials and municipal wastes.
Highland Feeders is located in the farming community of Vegreville, which is about 100 kilometres east of Edmonton, Alberta. Currently, the IMUS plant produces slightly less than one megawatt of electricity. Some of this power, about 200 to 300 kilowatts, is being used to power the feedlot operation. The remaining power, about 700 kilowatts, services about 700 households in the farming communities of Vegreville and Two Hills. Future development of the plant will triple the energy output to three megawatts of power.
The Alberta Research Council delivers innovative science and technology solutions, meeting the priorities of industry and government, in Alberta and beyond. Our integrated, multi-disciplinary teams help our customers and partners take technologies from the laboratory to the field, strengthening their competitiveness and sustainability.
The $7.9-million IMUS project has received strong support from industry, and from both the provincial and federal levels of government. Industry partners include Highland Feeders Ltd., Cor Van Ray Farms Ltd., Nolan Cattle Ltd., Rick Paskal Farms, Thompson Livestock Co. Inc., and Sustainable Development Technology Canada. Other partners include Alberta Research Council, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Technology Early Action Measures (TEAM), Energy Co-generation from Agricultural and Municipal Wastes, Green Municipal Investment Fund, Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Program for Canadian Agriculture, Alberta Agricultural Research Institute, and Climate Change Central.
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