COLUMBUS – Ohio Gov. Bob Taft has awarded a $1.5 million Third Frontier Wright Project grant to the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster.
The grant is for the creation of a bio-energy research facility to turn various agricultural and food-processing wastes into energy.
Taft made the announcement during a Dec. 6 visit to OARDC’s Wooster campus, in which he learned about the center’s contributions to the economic development of Ohio.
The Third Frontier grant will be matched by $1.746 million in federal funds secured by U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula.
The OARDC grant was one of nine grants totaling $10.6 million awarded by the Ohio Department of Development.
Innovation. It will help OARDC establish a facility on the Wooster campus for the project, which will develop an electrical generation system that operates on bio-gas derived from renewable mixed bio-mass.
Ohio food processors that generate agricultural waste products could use an electrical generation system to result in potential energy savings of as much as $3.5 billion.
Industry partners in this project include fuel-cell developer Technology Management Inc. of Cleveland and biodigester manufacturer NewBio of Eden Prairie, Minn.
Waste to energy. Research on waste-to-energy conversion at OARDC is led by Floyd Schanbacher and Lynn Willett, scientists with the department of animal sciences.
They explained to Taft how Ohio industries can benefit from bio-energy technologies by both reducing waste-management expenditures and generating their own source of power.
One example is the Wooster plant of national snack-food manufacturer Frito-Lay, which is working with OARDC and NewBio to turn unusable chips and wastewater into methane.
Frito-Lay engineer Cory Gardner and NewBio president Mike Gratz told Taft the project could save the plant more than $300,000 currently spent in residual-waste disposal and generate 20 percent of its energy needs.
“This (the bio-energy research facility) will be one of the first at-scale demonstrations of the ability to provide energy from biomass to fuel cells,” Schanbacher said.
“It can open a whole host of energy generation opportunities not currently available, applicable to both small and large industrial operations, as well as for world markets.”
Other projects. During the tour, OARDC scientists spoke with Taft about other research projects and initiatives that foster economic development and the creation of new technologies and business ventures in Ohio.
Topics included tomato breeding and the cancer-fighting power of lycopene; study and prevention of emerging infectious diseases of animals and humans; OARDC-generated soybean varieties and their impact on disease prevention, high-revenue exports, and new food and industrial products; and environmental stewardship and industrial growth in the Sugar Creek watershed.
Background, history. OARDC is the research arm of Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, with operations on the center’s main campus in Wooster, on the Ohio State campus in Columbus, and on 10 outlying agricultural research stations throughout the state.
Unveiled by Gov. Taft in February 2002, the Third Frontier Project is a 10-year, $1.1 billion initiative to expand high-tech research capabilities, promote innovation, encourage company formation and create high-paying jobs in Ohio.
Recipients must include an Ohio-based, for-profit company among its collaborators and must demonstrate the potential of a commercial application within five years.
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