Nevada, Iowa Samy Sadaka reached into a garbage bag, picked up a mixture of cow manure and corn stalks, let it run through his fingers and invited a visitor to do the same.
It wasn't that bad.
That mix of manure and corn stalks had spent 27 days breaking down in a special drying process. The end result looked like brown yard mulch with lots of thin fibers. There wasn't much smell. And it was dry to the touch.
"That's about 20 percent moisture," said Drew Simonsen, an Iowa State University sophomore from Quimby who's working on the research project led by Sadaka, an associate scientist for Iowa State's Center for Sustainable Environmental Technologies.
Other Iowa State researchers working on the project are Robert Burns, an associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering; Mark Hanna, an Extension agricultural engineer; Robert C. Brown, director of the Center for Sustainable Environmental Technologies and Bergles Professor in Thermal Science; and Hee-Kwon Ahn, a postdoctoral researcher for the department of agricultural and biosystems engineering.
The researchers are working to take wastes from Iowa farms manure and corn stalks and turn them into a bio-oil that could be used for boiler fuel and perhaps transportation fuel.
"The way I see manure, it's not waste anymore," Sadaka said. "It is bio-oil."
But it takes a few steps to make that transformation.
First, the manure needs to be dried so it can be burned. Sadaka's idea for low-cost and low-odor drying is to mix the manure with corn stalks, put the mix in a big drum, use a small blower to keep the air circulating and use an auger to turn the mixture once a day. Within about five days, bacteria and fungi working to decompose the mix have naturally raised the temperature to about 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Within another 20 days or so the moisture content is down from 60 percent to about 20 percent. Sadaka calls the proc
Contact: Samy Sadaka
Iowa State University