Jack Hoyle, Taylor High School, Taylor, AR
Mentor: Ms. Christy Hoyle
Project Title: Burning Biofuels
With unprecedented human population growth comes an increased demand for sustainable agriculture systems and a greater demand for alternative fuel sources. It is important for agriculturalists to consider the wastes produced by production agriculture as energy sources and to continue to explore ways to utilize these resources. The purpose of this research was to determine which types of agricultural wastes can produce biogas that can be collected and burned to power a small engine. Two previous years’ research has been conducted to determine which types of agricultural waste products produce the most biogas and to measure the amount of energy, in Calories, in each biofuel. The procedure included the construction of a wood gasifier and modification of a small gas engine to run on biofuel. Common agricultural wastes were processed in the wood gasifier to produce biogas, collected and measured in a plastic chamber by water displacement. The gas was then passed from the collection chamber, through a fuel filter, and was used to power a small gas engine. The tests measured the amount of time the engine would run on each biogas. The results did not support the original hypothesis, which stated that the forestry waste would power the engine the longest. The results determined that wheat straw biofuel actually powered the engine for the greatest amount of time. All of the crop wastes tested produced biogas capable of powering the small gas engine. The animal wastes tested did produce flammable biogas when processed in the gasifier, however, none of the animal waste biogas was capable of successfully powering the small gas engine. These results are consistent with previous research of others that indicates animal waste is best suited to processing in a methane digester for collection of biogas. Conclusions can be drawn that agricultural wastes can serve as fuel sources and agriculturalists can determine which type of fuel source is best for them depending on the type of production they are in and the availability of the resources.