Regional biogas project advancing

A new biogas production plant based out of northern Missouri continues to make steady progress.

It’s been slightly more than a year since the first volumes of biogas processed from hog manure were injected into a pipeline. Roeslein Alternative Energy, based in St. Louis, built a $120 million anaerobic digestion plant just north of Albany.

Officials touted the endeavor’s ability to reach goals that covered the creation of renewable energy, economic expansion and restoration of adjacent prairie.

Owner Rudi Roeslein had said earlier the effort also presents an opportunity to return the area to its former prairie status, growing native grasses that can be transformed into alternative fuel. He said the outcome also would carry improvements for the environment and a broader habitat for wildlife. Renewed prairie grass would enrich the soil and clean local water resources.

Brian Gale, Roeslein’s business development manager, said the company already is working with industrial customers interested in biogas for their programs.

“There’s basically two markets that we’re selling to right now,” Gale said.

Duke Energy in North Carolina is contracted to purchase part of the processed fuel to assist in realizing clean energy standards for power generation. Element Markets in California is using the fuel for its supply of compressed natural gas that benefits fleet vehicles.

Ruckman Farms in Gentry County was the first of nine farms selected to produce biogas for Roeslein. The Locust Ridge Farm near Harris, Missouri, and the Valley View Farm near Milan, Missouri, were both added to the collection network, Gale said.

Biogas is derived from the methane, a byproduct of hog wastes, with pipelines connecting to lagoons that produce the gas.

“We have hooked up about six lagoons,” Gale said of recent activity in the region.

Natural gas will be piped in from Valley View to Milan’s municipal gas system. That portion of the project is ongoing, with completion projected for spring 2018.

“We’re very excited to continue to move forward,” Gale said. “It’s a brand-new industry.”

Smithfield Hog Production in north Missouri is partnering with Roeslein on the biogas plant. The Nature Conservancy has provided 1,000 acres of Dunn Ranch in Harrison County for research into deriving alternative fuel from the grasses.

This spring, Roeslein opened a project office in Milan to work with landowners toward an objective of spreading the natural gas operations.


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