MSU Extracts Water From Manure: School to Capitalize on New Technology

Friday, 30 May 2014 09:17 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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Michigan State University said a technology for extracting drinkable water from manure will be put into commercial use by year's end.

The Lansing State Journal reported Thursday that the McLanahan Nutrient Separation System is a valuable add-on to an everyday anaerobic digester, which itself extracts energy and chemicals from manure.

Steve Safferman, an associate professor of biosystems and agricultural engineering working on the project, said the new separation system increases efficiency in raising cattle and also helps protect the environment by diverting water from manure back to the cows' drinking water.

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"If you have 1,000 cows on your operation, they produce about 10 million gallons of manure a year," said Safferman, according to The Associated Press.

"Here in Michigan we have a tendency to take water for granted. But out west, for example, where drought remains an issue, the accessibility of clean water could make the difference between a farm remaining viable or going out of business."

The AP reports that roughly 90 percent of manure is water, and that the new system can extract up to 50 gallons of water from 100 gallons of manure. Researchers said they hope to eventually get the extraction up to 65 gallons of water for each 100 gallons of manure.

In addition to processing the manure for water extraction, Jim Wallace, a former Michigan State student now employed by McLanahan, said that filtering out chemicals like ammonia is also one of the benefits of manure processing. Without processing, ammonia "would otherwise be lost in the atmosphere" which "is a negative from an air-quality standpoint."

The separation system's introduction to the commercial market marks an achievement 10 years in the making at MSU.

"It's a success story of a university project starting with a concept and moving all the way, hopefully, to commercial fruition," Safferman said.

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