March 25, 2013
Ohio State Wooster is getting its hands dirty, but in a good way. The campus is making good use of agricultural and food-processing waste for energy and to turn their grounds into an eco-friendly one.
The campus’ Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) is using wastes to create 3.6 MWh of green energy. This meets “close to one-third of the 12-megawatt-hour annual electricity needs of its main campus” and is reportedly enough energy to power 313 average homes in the nation.
Many colleges and universities across the country are implementing green resources like solar and renewable energy into its facilities, but the OARDC decided to go a different route by “employing anaerobic digestion technology, which turns a variety of organic wastes into biogas that is then converted to electricity.”
“Our setup is very different because we have a private company located on campus that we partner with, and which produces the biogas, converts it to electricity and sells it to us,” said John Ott, head of OARDC’s Facilities Services department. “Most other schools run their own power-generation facilities, whether solar, wind, geothermal, biomass or biogas.”
The said company is a Cleveland-based business called quasar energy group. Its anaerobic digester is 550,000 gallons large and can process 30,000 wet tons of biomass yearly.
“Our ideal goal is for this campus to become carbon-neutral,” David Benfield, OARDC’s associate director, said. “To do that, we need an energy source that goes through the carbon cycle, which anaerobic digestion does. In the future, we would like to purchase additional energy from quasar to reach 50 percent biogas-derived electricity use.”
In addition to its green energy initiatives, the campus is also beginning construction sometime this year for its first LEED Silver-certified building for the Department of Food, Agriculture and Biological Engineering.
The campus is definitely moving on up in the sustainable world.