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In Tulare County, A Group Turns Manure Into Clean Energy

With the kickoff of the largest agriculture expo this week in Tulare County, innovation in technology is the buzz all across the region. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports from Pixley where a new project is helping one local dairy turn their waste into biofuel.

About 15 miles south of the World Ag Expo in Tulare, a unique exchange is taking place between a dairy and an ethanol plant. The currency? Think manure. 

Bryan VanLoo is the vice president of Regenis. This week his company opened a facility here that takes cow manure and converts it to methane, which they then use to power the biofuel factory. It’s called an anaerobic digester.

VANLOO: “There are a lot of these digesters around the country and most of them are on dairy farms direct. This is the first of its kind where it’s a dairy-industry partnership.”

It works something like this: A dairy pipes in manure from across the street. The digester heats the manure and pushes the waste through a tunnel. The process releases methane and the natural gas is piped just feet away to help power an ethanol plant that produces millions of gallons of biofuels each year.

VANLOO: “We’re capturing what people have viewed as waste for so many years. We’re taking that waste and turning that into value.”

Regenis plans to use the partnership between Calgren Renewable Fuels and a local dairy as example for future projects in the region. 

Ezra David Romero is an award-winning radio reporter and producer. His stories have run on Morning Edition, Morning Edition Saturday, Morning Edition Sunday, All Things Considered, Here & Now, The Salt, Latino USA, KQED, KALW, Harvest Public Radio, etc.
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