Renewable energy is important to Minnesota and the world at large because it offers the ability to power society from a clean and diverse set of sources. AURI understands its importance and plays a meaningful role in the exciting opportunities it offers by developing renewable energy from agricultural products.
Even though AURI does not have a lab or facility devoted solely to renewable energy, it uses each of its labs and research facilities throughout the state of Minnesota to provide a unique resource for renewable energy entrepreneurs who are investigating new options for sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel sources. From transportation fuels to heat to electricity, AURI’s renewable energy team is constantly working on ways for ag based bioenergy to contribute to the Midwest’s economy and our nation’s energy future.
For example, there is AURI’s coproducts laboratory, which produces biomass and wood pellets destined for various heating and combined heat and power applications. The analytical and bioproducts laboratory has equipment such as a number of gas chromatographs capable of compositional characterizations for liquid fuels. This lab also offers flashpoint and heat of combustion testing, which are useful when conducting long-and-short-term analysis of solid fuels.
AURI’s renewable energy endeavors and supporting facilities are unique to Minnesota and the Midwest. It’s coproducts utilization laboratory is a rare value-added pilot laboratory. This means solid fuel, renewable energy projects have a unique resource available in the pilot scale pelleting capacity available at AURI. Combining the supporting pilot scale grinding, milling and drying capabilities with the advanced analytical laboratory in Marshall allows AURI to provide direct hands-on expertise, as well as access to an extensive network of industry leaders through its Innovation Networking Program.
Biomass Heating for Poultry Barns
AURI in conjunction with Minnesota’s Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTS) and Minnesota poultry farmer, Bill Koenig of Viking Company endeavored upon a 23-month study on biomass heating in chicken broiler barns. The study, which included the use of a 1.6 million BTU forced air furnace to heat the barn for raising 12 flocks of chickens at Koenig’s Viking, MN farm, showed positive results for fuel costs, ash efficiency and flock characteristics.
Minnesota Renewable Energy Roundtable (MNRER)
This is one of AURI’s innovation networks that has been ongoing for several years. It brings together a diverse network of industry participants ranging from business and industry leaders to nonprofit and government representatives. The MNRER goal is to offer insight into the challenges and priorities for advancing Minnesota’s renewable energy industry. In addition, participants are encouraged to take action on the challenges and opportunities in the area of renewable energy