ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Maryland Department of Agriculture has awarded a $1.9 million Animal Waste Technology Grant to International BioRefineries, LLC to install a biorefinery plant at Elysian Fields, a Wicomico County poultry farm owned by the Chesnik family. This project will allow Elysian Fields to test new technology that converts chicken manure into a variety of value-added products.
“Maryland continues to make good on its commitment to help farmers comply with environmental regulations by investing in promising new technologies that provide alternative uses for manure,” said Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder. “Our goal is to help farmers use the latest science to manage manure resources in a way that sustains the industry and protects the health of the Chesapeake Bay.”
The grant was awarded as part of the state’s ongoing effort to help farmers manage animal manure, protect natural resources, and pursue renewable energy sources.
The Chesnik family operates eight poultry houses that generate approximately 1,000 tons of litter annually. International BioRefineries, LLC will use a state-of-the-art thermochemical conversion technology known as “fast pyrolysis” to reduce the volume of litter by 50%. The process involves placing litter in a high pressure reactor that excludes air. The litter is then rapidly heated under controlled conditions causing it to decompose into several useful products, including:
- Bio-oil, which can be marketed as an asphalt extender or fuel additive;
- Bio-char, a charcoal-like soil amendment that absorbs carbon and is used to enhance compost; and
- Synthesis gas or syngas, a mixture of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen that can be used as a heat source to dry litter.
The department issued a request for proposals in September 2019, and received three submissions. The technical review subcommittee evaluated each project and presented their recommendations to the full Animal Waste Technology Fund Advisory Committee.
The Animal Waste Technology Fund provides seed funding to companies that demonstrate innovative technologies on farms and alternative strategies for managing animal manure. These technologies may generate energy from animal manure, reduce on-farm waste streams, or repurpose manure by creating marketable fertilizer products. Program funding is provided by the Maryland Energy Administration and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund. To date, the program has awarded $7.76 million in grants to approved projects. For more information, please visit the department’s website.
–Megan Guilfoyle, Maryland Department of Agriculture