Challenges and Opportunities in Biogas Production

Wednesday’s Iowa Learning Farms webinar focused on emerging concepts in biogas digestion and on-farm biogas production. Drawing on the expertise of Edward Johnstonbaugh, extension program specialist at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) and Matthew McVey a doctoral graduate student at Penn State, the presentation covered topics from on-farm production systems, to current challenges, opportunities, and areas of research in biogas production.

Johnstonbaugh discussed optimal conditions for digester operation on farm and addressed some of the challenges associated with maintaining these conditions. These challenges included energy efficiency, appropriate system design, maintaining consistent conditions inside the digester, and finding uses for biogas co-products.

McVey continued on to give an overview of the anaerobic digestion process using the diagram above. He talked about the opportunities and challenges associated with a variety of potential feedstocks in anaerobic digesters including food waste, cellulosic biomass, and manure. He also talked about different processes used in anaerobic digestion, expanding on each of the processes in the slide below.

McVey explained new and emerging markets available for the resulting products of anaerobic digestion including renewable fuels, bioplastics, renewable CO2, and nutrient credit programs. He concluded with insights into how an on-farm business model could adapt to meet these new and emerging opportunities in anaerobic digestion.

To learn more about the exciting opportunities of anaerobic digestion, check out the full webinar here! Be sure to join us next week on Wednesday, June 9 at noon, for the webinar “Impacts of Cover Crops and Tillage Systems on Phosphorus Loss With Surface Runoff From Corn and Soybean Fields” with Iowa State University’s Antonio Mallarino.

Riley Wilgenbusch