There’s natural gas, and then there’s really natural gas. AMP Americas gets some of its compressed natural gas straight from the farm.
The company manages a fleet of 42 milk trucks for Fair Oak Farms with renewable natural gas made from manure from the same 30,000-cow dairy.
The cow manure provides enough renewable CNG to fuel heavy-duty trucks traveling more than 20,000 miles a day throughout the Midwest.
The renewable fuel is made through a process called anaerobic digestion, a process often used in fermentation and to treat organic waste and to create biofuels.
Anaerobic digestion uses bacteria to break down organic waste and produce methane that can be upgraded to natural gas-quality biomethane.
The process is often used in sustainable and small-scale energy generation schemes, but AMP Americas claims the Fair Oak Farms project is a first for trucking.
Biogas from animal waste is often used to power farm operations — electricity and heating, for example. Now those farms can produce fuel on the side, so to speak.
There are more than 8,000 dairy and swine farms that could use anaerobic digestion to create fuel or energy, though fewer than 200 currently do, according to the EPA.
The Fair Oak Farms dairy fleet is the first “agricultural digester” project to qualify for Renewable Identification Numbers from the Environmental Protection Agency, AMP said.
"A vision of producing renewable natural gas for our fleet has become a reality,” said Mark Storemann, operations director for AMP and director of the project.
“We are extremely proud of the dedicated team that, over the course of the past 2 1/2 years, has allowed this to succeed” — including the cows, of course.