University of Vermont

Renewable BioEnergy Program 

Hands on in: Wood; Grass; Biodiesel - waste vegetable oil-based, oil seed crops-based, home heating oil; Ethanol; Algae biofuel; Transportation Fuels - on road & aviation; Biofuels Sustainability, Economics, Social, Policy aspects... check out the registration info for next spring or fall version of Biomass to Biofuels Course and contact the lead instructor for any related information.
 
                                                                                     



 

 



 







Bioenergy : Biomass to Biofuels Course Service Learning Projects

Here is year-wise list of Bioenergy: Biomass to Biofuels Service learning projects undertaken by the students in collaboration with respective community partners engaged in bioenergy areas.  Some of the published project reports are described below. For more information about these projects, contact the Lead Instructor,  Anju Dahiya. She gratefully acknowledges support from the organizations and individuals listed under topics page that made this course possible including the UVM CUPS office for supporting service learning component.

     2010      2011      2012      2013

           [Click on the year or scroll down]


2013 Bioenergy Projects
(8 projects undertaken by 13 students – more to start in fall)

1.          Thermal Heating Fuel Switch - a feasibility study for a farm

2.          Modeling methanogenesis in anaerobic digesters

3.          Volatility in Crude Oil and Corn Prices

4.          Exploration of the Jean Pain Method for Greenhouse Heating

5.          Green Diesel Synthesis via Heterogeneous AOP Catalysis

6.          Analysis of Food Waste Feedstocks for Biodigestion at a VT-based business

7.          Advanced biofuel extraction – a feasibility study.

8.          Vermont smart greenhouse

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2012 Bioenergy Projects
(12 projects undertaken by 23 students):

1.          Cost Analysis of Oilseed Crop Production For Biodiesel in collaboration with a VT-based farm in Alburgh

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Two 2012 Biomass to Biofuels students undertook this project and did an analysis to see if a dairy farmer could realize an economic benefit from dedicating 20% of their acreage to growing an oil seed for bio fuel conversion: the dairy had an adequate land base, using acres that would have rotated in to corn or hay and raised an oil seed crop for one year. The analysis compared sunflowers, canola, and soybeans. The value of the by-product meal was analyzed as well for its value as a substitute for purchased grain. The results of the analysis were favorable to biofuel production. The effort was picked up by  the 2013 Biomass to Biofuels course student to take the study to the next level. More info published in RSENER eNewsletter (scroll down to the bottom and look under "COURSE NEWS").

2.         Monitoring Biogas Productivity from Source Separated Organics: A Service-Learning Project with a VT-based business.

3.          Biodiesel Project: An Educational Experience Converting Waste Cooking Oil to Biodiesel  to convert school fleet of diesel powered tractors to biodiesel

4.          Cedar Creek Farm: Creating Heat cost-efficiently for running greenhouses – a great benefit to the farmer

5.          Feasibility Study: First Adopters; Speculation on the reasons why a developer in the United States might choose to invest in a biomass technique unfamiliar stateside but in use elsewhere in the world

6.          Mobile Ethanol Distillery Unit: a feasibility study

7.          Biomass Energy Resource Center- Wood Energy

8.          Feasibility of Biofuels at Rock Point, Burlington, VT

9.          Collaboration with Vermont Sustainable Heating Initiative

10.       Production of Bio-Diesel For A Business in collaboration with a small scale biodiesel producer in Vermont

11.        Biomass Energy Resource Center- Heating

12.        Feasibility of Biogas production integrated with a Wastewater Treatment Facility

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2011 Bioenergy Projects
(7 projects undertaken by 14 students):

1.          Pellet Production Project by Chittenden Biofuels Corp.

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The Biomass to Biofuels 2011 course student moves the work he started earlier and developed a buisness plan to produce local wood pellets in Vermont with VSHI & Biomass Energy Resource Center (BERC). At the same time VSHI was working on a related feasibility study with the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission and BERC.  He did a survey of what Vermonters wanted as a biomass Utility. Most wanted it locally owned, locally run, and to work with the state on low income heating and environmental issues. More info published in RSENER eNewsletter (scroll down to the bottom and look under "COURSE NEWS").

2          The farm based hydrological compost heating system project.

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Two biomass to biofuels students undertook a study to compost as an energy source for diversified farms. At that time they were engaged in a grant application to study compost as an energy source for diversified farms, and as a part of the course project build a framework from which to pursuing the grant application was made possible. The proposal was funded. Two years later, they are working at UVM's Miller Research farm on Spear Street, currently in the pilot study phase, sponsored by UVM's Clean Energy Fund, looking at the heat and gas return from aerated static pile compost in closed cell containers. Their ultimate goal is to provide carbon negative greenhouse heat from existing farm feedstocks, but we're at least a year of testing and energy modeling away from constructing a full model. More info published in RSENER eNewsletter (scroll down to the bottom). Also check out their project presentation

3.          Retrofitting Trinity Campus for Woody Biomass

description of imageFour Biomass to Biofuels 2011 course studentss studied Retrofitting Trinity Campus for Woody Biomass.. They investigated the requirements of Trinity campus for an energy efficient system, where at the time there were two 6.3 MMBtu natural gas boilers to provide heat and hot water to a fraction of the campus. Based on the university’s natural gas bill figures, it was determined that during the winter months, which require the most heat input, only utilized 20-40% of the capacity of a single boiler. If the system in place were to be expanded to supply all other buildings on the campus, the heat input requirements would be roughly 3-4MMBtu. A single boiler would still be sufficient enough to provide heat and hot water and would only be utilizing 50-70% of the maximum capacity. The boilers are only utilized to provide heat and hot water, not electricity production which is an important factor to consider when choosing a system because biomass burning for electricity production is not very efficient (15-25% efficient). The students concluded their study with a recommendation to not install a biomass boiler/gasification system on Trinity campus. Based on the fact that ROI was far too great for this to be economically feasible besides many other problems associated with installing a biomass system in an urban area as described in the report.. One of the students joined a Washinton DC-based firm as energy analyst . Another student developed a proposal for Clean Energy Fund.. Check out their study.  

4          The Role of Biomass in Vermont’s Energy Future:  A position proposal for The Vermont Sierra Club

5          Oil seeds based project with a VT-based Farm

6          Biogas project in partnership with a VT-based business.

7          Rockart/Avatar Brewery Waste Anaerobic Digestion Experiment 

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2010 Bioenergy Term papers:

In 2010 version of Biomass to Biofuels course, the term papers were mandatory that evolved into service learning projects afterwards. After all field trips were over the students were required to write the term papers based on their class and field experiences 



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New projects will be posted here as we go.


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Last modified June 12 2013 11:06 AM