CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/811,150, filed on Jun. 5, 2006, which is expressly incorporated herein in its entirety by reference thereto. U.S. application Ser. No. 10/600,936, filed on Jun. 20, 2003, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,908,495 and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/709,171 filed on Nov. 10, 2000, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,689,274, and U.S. Application No. [not yet known]entitled Low Oxygen Biologically Mediated Nutrient Removal filed on Nov. 3, 2006, are each expressly incorporated herein in its entirety by reference thereto.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a novel process for the environmentally compatible production of food, particularly milk and meat, and energy, particularly ethanol, in a functionally integrated system which realizes significant economic advantages through the efficient use and reuse of resources, products, byproducts, waste products and energy which are often wasted or underutilized in non integrated systems.
The single largest segment of U.S. agriculture has recently emerged as that dealing with Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). CAFOs include any operation in which large numbers of dairy cows, beef cattle, swine or poultry are raised in contained structures and in large concentrations. While straining environmental management goals, these facilities contribute to the readily available, high quality, low priced food products enjoyed by US citizens. CAFOs represent a substantial beneficial agricultural production sector.
CAFOs typically generate significant quantities of solid wastes (manures), wastewaters, and atmospheric emissions and these materials are increasingly creating an environmental barrier for continued expansion of the CAFO industry. In typical CAFO waste treatment systems, waste is spread over large tracts of land for its fertilizer value allowing for its slow decomposition and uptake by plants. Because the agronomic rate for efficient plant uptake is low, large areas are required for this to be accomplished in an environmentally compliant manner. Even when waste is treated on-site using large treatment basins and/or other processes that treat and settle the waste for eventual disposal of the resultant solids and liquids, very large tracts of land are still required for application of the resultant solids and liquids to prevent undesired concentrations of contaminants and thus pollution of surrounding surface water bodies and/or ground water. Irrespective of the conventional treatment alternatives selected, CAFOs and their associated treatment systems thus require significant amounts of land to operate.
Agricultural runoff is the primary water pollution problem in the United States. Over-application of animal waste to cropland has resulted in manure nutrients polluting surface and ground water systems, adversely impacting water quality throughout the country. For example, the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes clean-up initiatives are spending billions of dollars to reduce excess nutrient pollution. In both cases, agriculture in general, and CAFOs in particular, have been identified among the main contributors of pollution. CAFOs are also significant emitters of pollutants to air, with dairies having been identified as the largest contributor to airborne ammonia and other polluting gases in the critically impaired region of the San Joaquin Valley in California.
Recent technological developments have made it possible to resolve these geographical and environmental problems so that there now exists a comprehensive environmental solution for CAFOs. Some of these proprietary technological developments are described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,689,274 and 6,908,495, in U.S. application Ser. No. 10/106,751 Low Oxygen Biologically Mediated Nutrient Removal, in U.S. application Ser. No. 11/106,751 filed on Apr. 15, 2005, and in U.S. Application Serial No. [unknown] entitled Low Oxygen Biologically Mediated Nutrient Removal filed on Nov. 3, 2006 (collectively, the “Bion Technology”). The Bion Technology enables CAFO treatment facilities to surpass current (as well as anticipated) treatment objectives and environmental regulations for both nutrient releases to receiving waters and lands as well as associated air emissions. The Bion Technology effectively removes nutrients from effluent discharges, including those applied to local lands and waters, while dramatically reducing atmospheric emissions. Use of the Bion Technology enables existing CAFOs to continue operation at a time when new regulations and compliance standards would otherwise prohibit their existence. Nuisance odors and emissions associated with CAFOs are dramatically reduced, thereby addressing complaints from local residents and public advocates normally associated with CAFO facilities. More significantly, reduced nutrients in the effluent discharges enables CAFOs to operate and discharge treatment effluents on smaller land areas without violating environmental constraints. As a result of the ecological efficiencies and environmental benefits achieved by the Bion Technology, less land and thus increased herd concentrations (usually a minimum of 3 to as much as 10 or more times current herd number per acre of property) can be achieved, thereby allowing integration of CAFOs with other food and energy production units on a scale which was impossible up to now. Put differently, significantly larger sized CAFOs can operate on the same amount of land, and more significantly for the present invention, often times smaller sized tracts of land, than conventional sized CAFOs, and this presents integration opportunities not previously available.
Applicants acknowledge that alternative treatment processes/systems, such as those applying, for example, the use of deep well injection (Robin, George, BIOSLURRYFRAC, A Class V Experimental UIC Permit, EPA 2005) and/or membrane filtration, might possibly achieve the attributes of the Bion Technology (i.e., reduced air emissions and effluent discharges). Accordingly, those alternative treatment process/systems are contemplated in the process of the current invention so long as they can achieve comparable (or better) reduced land requirements for CAFOs.
- Weigel, Jerry C., Loy, Dan, and Kilmer, Lee, Feed Co-Products of the Dry Corn Milling Process, Featuring Distillers Dry Grains, 1997.
The possibility of reduced land requirements (increased herd concentration) is the catalyst that drives a significant opportunity to address the continuing crisis involving energy supplies and the resultant focus on renewable energy production. As gasoline and related energy prices climb and sources of supply are diminished or become unreliable there is a need for alternative fuels. This has led to an interest in ethanol and butanol production as an additive to, or a replacement for, conventionally produced gasoline. Production of these spirits (ethanol and butanol, and others) entails the fermentation of corn grain or other appropriate fermentable materials using microorganisms and then separating the ethanol from the fermentation liquor via distillation.
As shown in the above process flow diagram for ethanol products, ethanol production facilities need to dry the resultant byproducts of the process, the wet distillers grains and solubles, before removing them from the production site. Wet distillers grains and solubles are denser and more costly to transport than dry distillers grains and dried solubles due to water content. Also, the wet distillers grains rapidly spoil during storage or transport. It is necessary to dry the distillers grains in order to stop this spoilage. Ultimately, the dried distillers grains from an ethanol production facility are disposed of by transporting them off site, usually to dairies or beef feedlots for incorporation as a component of cow feed.
To prevent this spoilage, the distillers grains have to be dried, which requires energy, and then transported to the cows, which requires even more energy, and often storage facilities. The consequence is that there is a significant cost associated with the disposal or reuse of the distillers grains.
Conventional ethanol production requires a continuous inflow of corn grain, which requires transportation often times from distant locations via train or truck, storage, and handling. Conventional ethanol production also requires a great deal of energy for the distillation process, for the drying of the wet distillers grain, for the drying of solubles, for evaporators, presses and dryers, and heating the fermenter and its biologically active contents. Further, convention ethanol production requires the handling, storage, and transportation of the dry distillers grains and dry solubles.
The two most significant requirements for the economical production of ethanol on an environmentally compliant large scale basis are 1. a source of heat for the distillation process, and 2. a means of economically handling the distillers grains from the fermentation process. Up until the present invention, the drying process has been a major cost component because the wet distillers grains spoil if not used for feed within a few hours after their production.
Locating a sufficiently large CAFO next to an ethanol plant would eliminate several disadvantages and inefficiencies associated with ethanol production, but this concept has not been successfully implemented because of environmental and land constraints which prevent such very large CAFOs from being built in the proper locations.
Because the size of the CAFO that would be required to balance even the smallest economical ethanol plant is so large, up until the conception of the current invention, no one has yet conceived of a way to fully integrate a CAFO facility with an ethanol production facility so that the two can operate continuously and interdependently without adverse impact to the environment and without losing the benefits of eliminating the drying required by current practice. The energy requirements can be dramatically reduced and the environmental treatment objectives can be met if an ethanol plant can be coupled to a very large CAFO facility operating in an economically and environmentally practical manner, such as, for example, if the CAFO facility utilizes the Bion Technology.
Operating very large CAFOs in an environmentally compliant manner and on smaller land areas means that CAFOs can be sited very close to renewable energy, food, and other agricultural product production facilities and that CAFOs can be successfully integrated with them. New possibilities are created for the location(s) of CAFOs that would otherwise have been unavailable. The integration of CAFO treatment systems with food and energy production facilities generates significant economic advantages and savings by minimizing energy, transportation and distribution costs, maximizing waste heat utilization at CAFO treatment facilities and energy production facilities, and optimizing renewable energy application by locating energy users next to renewable energy producers. Applicants have discovered a process that integrates CAFOs, treatment processes that reduce land requirements for CAFOs' waste treatment systems (e.g., the Bion Technology), food production facilities, and energy production facilities in an environmentally safe and economical manner. The integrated process produces energy products, such as ethanol, butanol, and biodiesel, and food products, such as milk, meat, and cheese, at substantially reduced cost.
Thus, Applicants have discovered a means for integrating food and energy production facilities with large CAFO facilities to take advantage of the previously described integration efficiencies while reducing the environmental impact of producing these products.
Applicants have also discovered that the integration of a CAFO with a biofuel production facility creates new possibilities for utilization of energy sources. Accordingly, Applicants have discovered a process to create a renewable energy source comprising separating coarse solids from a CAFO's waste stream, drying some or all of these coarse solids by utilizing waste heat from other operations in an integrated system, and then using such dried coarse solids to produce biofuel. This process may also comprise satellite CAFO facilities located close to the biofuel facility, which can separate their coarse solids, dry these coarse solids using combusted coarse solids at the satellite site or methane produced by the anaerobic digestion of CAFO wastes at the satellite site, and then efficiently transporting such dried solids to the nearby biofuel production facility.
Applicants have also discovered a novel process to produce biofuel utilizing dried coarse solids as an energy source in the biofuel production process.
Applicants have also discovered a novel process for the distillation of spirits using renewable energy sources, namely, separated organic, mostly cellulosic, solids and/or methane produced by the anaerobic degradation of the manure from a CAFO.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Applicants have furthermore discovered an integrated system comprising biofuel production, food and animal production, and organic waste treatment in an ecologically efficient and environmentally safe manner.
The present invention is a system and a process comprised of a number of matched or balanced processing units that, when integrated, generate food and energy products economically and treat resulting organic wastes in an environmentally sustainable and benign fashion.
The invention is made possible by utilizing treatment technologies (such as the Bion Technology) which allow large CAFOs to be sited on a small footprint without creating environmental problems. This in turn allows CAFO production units and associated organic waste treatment processes to be synergistically combined with other food and energy production units (facilities such as cheese or milk processing plants and ethanol plants) to form an interrelated and integrated system.
In this integrated system, a given unit's products, by-products, and waste products, or excess or waste energy can be used by other physically adjacent units, thereby substantially lowering production costs and eliminating many distribution, handling and storage costs while recovering additional benefits from the wastes (e.g., waste heat) usually lost in physically isolated facilities.
For example: in such an integrated system, a given unit may:
1. deliver its main product directly to an adjacent unit that uses the product. For example, a CAFO dairy can pipe its milk directly to an adjacent cheese plant, thereby eliminating distribution costs such as trucking, cooling, storing, etc.
2. deliver wastes and byproducts directly to a physically adjacent unit which can beneficially reuse such wastes and byproducts in an optimum manner. This would avoid costs associated with transportation and storage, and the processing costs of the materials which the transporting and storage would require. For example, the wet distillers grains from an ethanol plant could be fed directly to cows in an adjacent CAFO dairy without drying or storing the wet distillers grains, thereby minimizing transportation costs and avoiding the major energy and capital cost required to dry these solids to avoid spoilage.
3. take high and low grade heat which results from one production process and transfer it directly to an adjacent unit which can use such high and low grade heat in its own production process. For example, use the waste heat from an ethanol facility to heat the biological process and dry the solids in a waste treatment system or use the dried coarse solids from a waste treatment system as a fuel supply for the ethanol plant.
The invention efficiently moves organic solid materials between the livestock portion of the integrated process and the food and energy production portion of the integrated process to take full advantage of their value and thereby minimize the net amount of energy utilized while significantly lowering the amount of energy that is wasted. For example, dried coarse solids generated at the livestock waste treatment portion of the process can be burned and used as a heat supply in the distillation of ethanol in the energy portion of the process. The process of the invention similarly takes advantage of internal recirculation of materials such as, for example, use of wet distillers grains as the livestock feed for dairy cows, which is practical because the cows are located physically close to the ethanol plant and the cows can be fed the wet distillers grains for a substantial component of their ration as they are produced—no drying or storage would be required.
One important aspect to obtaining the efficiencies (without the need for significant external energy sources, transportation costs and disposal costs) of the invention is obtaining proximity in a limited geographic area of large numbers of livestock (CAFOs) with other energy and food production units. Large livestock numbers (e.g., concentrations of dairy cows, beef feeders, pigs, and the like on relatively small units of land) are required so that enough energy sources can be generated by the livestock portion of the process and subsequently transferred to/utilized by the food and energy production portion of the process. Having a food and energy products facility located close to a large CAFO also enables multiple uses at the CAFO for low grade energy sources which result from the food and energy production processes—energy sources that would be wasted or used less efficiently if not for the integration contemplated by the invention. For example, waste heat from ethanol distillation can be used to dry coarse solids at the CAFO's environmental management treatment process. These coarse solids themselves are a novel product with high energy content that can be utilized in the process of the invention or elsewhere. Similarly, waste heat from a milk pasteurization process could heat a portion (biological reactor) of the CAFO treatment process in the winter. Also, in the process of the invention, large livestock quantities are required to consume the resultant by-product generated by the energy production portion of the process (usually wet distillers grains), thereby avoiding the need for additional treatment and/or disposal which require energy, transportation and money. The Bion Technology is one known technology that enables the requisite reduced land requirements.
Described briefly, the Bion Technology is a biologically mediated organic waste treatment system that simultaneously nitrifies and denitrifies the waste, thereby removing nitrogen and providing increased biologically mediated removal of phosphorus from the waste. The Bion Technology is also a largely odorless process that operates at a higher treatment rate than other technologies used in the industry and requires less land to treat and dispose of the waste process effluents. In addition to odor, the Bion process substantially lowers (in some cases nearly eliminating) the atmospheric emissions of compounds responsible for air pollution, human and animal health concerns, nuisance odors complaints and greenhouse effects. Without the Bion Technology, or equivalent technologies or combinations thereof that can achieve the described environmental treatment and land attributes, the number of livestock required for the process of the present invention and the required land area for environmental management render the concept impractical. Using current waste treatment technologies that require larger amounts of land, the size of the livestock waste treatment facility's land required for appropriate nutrient uptake and water disposal would be so big that it would cost too much money to own and operate, and prohibit the proximity required for the food and energy production portion of the process of the invention in order to take advantage of the integration.
The Bion Technology provides an effective method of handling the effluent discharges from the livestock waste treatment in compliance with environmental regulations, especially for the quantities involved. The nutrients generated by the number of livestock required by the process of the current invention (notably nitrogen and phosphorus) are regulated (or will soon be regulated) according to total load discharged per acre of property. Accordingly, if not for the Bion Technology, huge amounts of land would be required for the number of livestock required for the process of the present invention. Using the Bion Technology, nutrients are converted and removed from effluents discharged to surrounding cropland so that the land area needed for disposal of treated wastewater as crop irrigation is greatly reduced from that currently required and practiced in the industry, thereby creating new opportunities for the locations of CAFOs, especially CAFOs integrated with food and energy production facilities. Nutrients are typically removed from a system in solids form that can be beneficially used/sold as a fertilizer product on-site or off-site, or processed into a protein source for animal ration such as fish or poultry.
The Bion Technology also prevents substantial atmospheric pollution, avoids the release of excessive greenhouse gases and odors, and prevents nuisance and health complaints, by substantially reducing the release of troublesome gasses such as ammonia, methane, oxides of nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide and volatile organic compounds as compared to current practice. The improved aesthetics allowed by reducing the releases of nuisance odorous compounds also allows the location of CAFOs and the food and energy systems closer to population centers, thus increasing the distribution efficiencies and lowering costs to the consumer.
As a result of reduced land requirements for systems utilizing the Bion Technology or other equivalent technologies, it is possible to obtain the larger livestock quantities on a single property, and it is also possible to operate multiple CAFOs and associated waste treatment facilities in close proximity to each other, which also has significant benefits. Materials and substances can be removed from individual CAFOs and their associated waste treatment facilities and combined in a larger, likely central treatment facility, with significantly less pre-shipment treatment and transportation requirements than facilities spread further apart. Several large dairies, beef feedlots, or other animal production units can operate in concert with a centralized agricultural production center, which itself treats its waste according to the Bion Technology. Thus, all of the wastes from such a centralized agricultural production center, as well as the wastes from the local associated livestock operations, are treated with appropriate control of nutrients and atmospheric emissions with the Bion Technology.
The proximity of multiple treatment systems utilizing the Bion Technology also allows for many waste products, or low value by-products and energy sources that would otherwise be wasted or undervalued, to be profitably exploited, greatly increasing the overall efficiency and economics of the treatment portion of the process of the invention combined with the food and energy production portion of the process. An overall balancing of process flows and system unit sizes and specifications for multiple units maximizes by-product and waste utilization, thereby reducing the need for and reliance upon external energy supplies.
Utilization of the Bion Technology also makes new uses of products as energy sources that are otherwise underutilized and/or discarded. For example, in a dairy waste treatment system utilizing the Bion Technology, a centrifuge, a screw press or other solids separation device(s) or combination thereof is used for removal of solids, the resulting coarse solids being composed mostly of undigested cellulose, hemi-cellulose and lignin from the cow's ration. This undigested material can be further processed (e.g., pressed and dried) to create dried solids with significant energy properties. These solids contain enough net energy so that they can be combusted to produce steam in a boiler at an energy production facility. The key aspect is producing these solids at a dryness and density which makes transportation to the energy facility economical, while still allowing final drying with waste heat from the boiler or burner. This process optimally uses all or most of the waste heat available at both the satellite and centralized facilities.
Another example would be a dairy waste treatment system utilizing the Bion Technology with an anaerobic digester and a centrifuge, screw press, or other solids separation device for treatment of solids which remain after anaerobic digestion, the resulting coarse solids again being composed mostly of undigested cellulose, hemi-cellulose and lignin from the cow's ration, but these materials will be in different relative proportions than in the previous example (a lower cellulose to lignin ratio). This undigested material can be further processed (e.g., pressed and dried) to create dried solids with significant energy properties. These solids still contain enough net energy so that they can be combusted to produce steam in a boiler at an energy production facility. Again, the key aspect is producing these solids at a dryness and density which makes transportation to the energy facility economical while still allowing final drying with waste heat from the boiler or burner. This process optimally uses all or most of the waste heat available at both the satellite and centralized facilities.
The food and energy portion of the process of the invention comprises many possible combinations of fuel (ethanol, butanol, biodiesel, etc.), biogas (containing methane), food (cheese, milk, ice cream, etc), waste combustion energy, organic fertilizer, feed rations, or many other biological or agricultural products. Major advantages in the production and processing of these varied forms of energy, food, and other agricultural products can be achieved, both economically and environmentally, by locating these facilities close to large CAFOs. For example, since the wastestream from a CAFO can produce materials such as methane or coarse solids which can be combusted to provide both high and low grade heat energy, the proximity of the users of such energy (the production and processing facilities) to the CAFO minimizes or eliminates storage, handling and transporting of these materials and the resultant costs associated with such storage, handling, and transporting.
Thus, the process of the present invention includes a combination of the treatment process for livestock according to the Bion Technology integrated with food and energy production processes resulting in an effective and efficient integrated system to produce livestock, food, and usable energy and to control nutrients and waste. The resulting biofuels are typically sold. Solid byproducts, such as distillers grains from ethanol production, are used in the livestock rations, and the amount of distillers grains produced is used to balance the number of livestock used in the process. A food production facility, such as a cheese or fluid milk bottling plant, may then be sized according to the number of milking cows at an associated dairy CAFO. Organic solids generated by the organic waste treatment portion of the process are processed further to create fuel and/or potential ration components for fish, shrimp, cattle, or other livestock, either within or outside the food and energy portion of the process. The correct processing goals for these solids (percent dryness, compressed density, etc,) will be unique to each system practicing the process of the invention, and as will a system's overall final products mix.
By way of example, without limitation, the integrated system of facilities according to the present invention could include:
- An ethanol plant whose size is balanced to meet the feed requirements of an associated CAFO herd. Beyond the production of ethanol, the ethanol plant functions as:
- A feed mill for the CAFO herd which utilizes the spent grain from ethanol production in its feed ration component, materially reducing operating expenses (energy and transportation) and capital requirements (dryers);
- An end user of renewable energy in the forms generated on site—cellulosic solids, methane and steam—without the inefficiencies and energy loss from conversion to electricity and sale to the local utility;
- A source of waste heat (which, if not utilized, increases ethanol production costs for required disposal) that is used to pre-heat the CAFO waste stream prior to biological processing in the CAFO treatment process facility and to maintain temperatures throughout the CAFO treatment process system. In colder climates, additional uses of this waste heat can include heating the CAFO animal or processing areas and treatment process plant
- A CAFO production unit whose size is balanced to consume all wet distillers grains produced by the ethanol plant. Beyond serving as a system for the beneficial use of a major byproduct of the ethanol plant (often considered as a low value nuisance residual), the CAFO and its associated treatment process generates and captures the value of large amounts of renewable energy through:
- Production of largely cellulosic solids a portion of which may be used to produce energy to dry: i) the cellulosic portion of the manure waste stream in preparation for combustion, and ii) the fine solids portion of the waste stream, and in other manners
- Production of methane from livestock manure by anaerobic digestion which can be used directly as an energy source by the ethanol distillery, and /or to maintain the Bion Technology's biological process temperature in cold climates, and/or other direct fuel replacement uses throughout the integrated system. Waste heat from the combustion of this methane can also be used to dry the cellulosic portion of the manure waste stream in preparation for combustion, and/or the fine solids portion of the waste stream, and/or other drying functions throughout the system
- Combustion of the dried, highly cellulosic solids portion of the processed manure stream to generate energy which, together with the methane, supports the ethanol production process;
- Combustion that transforms the ‘solubles’ by-product (and even portions of the spent grain) from ethanol production into energy as an alternative. (Inclusion of distillers grains in dairy rations may be significantly increased when ‘solubles’ with high fat content are excluded, thereby further improving the balance between ethanol plant and herd size);
- The processing of the fine-solids portion of the treated stream into a value-added, marketable, organic fertilizer and/or animal ration protein feed component product.
- A Food Production Facility such as a milk bottling plant or a cheese production plant which would be sized to use all of the raw milk produced by the centralized CAFO facility and any associated satellite CAFO facilities. In addition to serving as a direct consumer of all of the milk produced by the CAFO(s), such a production unit would also serve as:
- A user of waste heat from the ethanol plant.
- A source of waste heat which could be used in the CAFO waste treatment process to heat the biological components such as bioreactors or anaerobic digesters, or to pre-dry solids, or the like.
- A source of additional nutrients for the CAFO treatment process which would be contained in the processing wastewaters from the food production unit. The food production unit could thus become a customer of the CAFO treatment facility in that it could use the treatment process for processing wastewater treatment
The benefits of the invention could include but are not limited to:
1—Biofuel (ethanol, butanol, biodiesel, and the like) production with a competitive advantage in unit production cost due to: a) lower capital cost and operating costs (no dryers, grain drying or grain shipping over long distances), and b) an agreement for the consumption of the spent grain and other byproducts by the on-site CAFO livestock; CAFO livestock could consume the distiller grains by-product (the spent grain from ethanol production with corn as its feedstock) without the need for drying (or driers).
2—An improved dairy CAFO due to a) greatly reduced ration costs which occurs because wet distillers grains can be used as they are produced, thereby eliminating drying, storing, or trucking, b) proximity to end-user (cheese or bottling plant) which allows milk to be piped directly to the end user, thereby eliminating cooling, storage, and trucking costs, and c) availability of shared energy sources for use in barns (and related facilities) in the dairy.
3—Environmentally safe waste processing that may: a) generate revenue from sharing resources with integrated CAFO operations, and b) generate revenue from the sale of unique end products—fine solids marketable as fertilizer and/or feed; c) generate revenue through the sale of nutrient, greenhouse gas, or other credits.
4—End-users (bottling or cheese plant) with competitive advantages due to ‘single sourcing’ and/or proximity to CAFO herd.
5—Utilization of nutrients and water from the environmental system on soil crops; and
6—Energy benefits of net on-site production and utilization of renewable energy and substantial avoided use of off site energy sources. Most of the renewable energy generated onsite using the process of the invention is at an “avoided cost” for natural gas or other energy sources at local retail rates. This unique renewable energy generation—utilization strategy enables the process to capture not just the “wellhead” or ‘as produced’ value of the renewable energy BTU's produced but the full “burner tip” or ‘as utilized’ value which is the utility's delivered price to the end user.
Combustion of dried coarse solids or the methane generated from anaerobic digestion of the manure waste stream could generate sufficient heat to dry additional coarse, high cellulosic, low nutrient solids for the purpose of combustion to offset natural gas use in the biofuel (e.g., ethanol) production and other areas of the integrated complex. Evaporators utilizing the waste heat from the coarse solids dryers in turn could enable drying high-protein fine solids (up to 40%-45% crude protein) into a marketable, value-added feed supplement and/or organic fertilizer. Thus, the integrated facility's renewable energy capability enables it to economically produce a series of energy surrogates—i.e., renewable ethanol, renewable nitrogen, phosphorus and renewable protein.
As a result, a facility or system utilizing the process of the invention creates a far more energy efficient, and substantially more profitable, business enterprise while meeting rigorous environmental standards. None of these integration advantages are realizable without the animal numbers (concentrations) with strict pollution control which are possible because of the Bion Technology or other equivalent environmental control technologies.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
A system model for the process will be subjected to network optimization algorithms to obtain a maximized economical system operating mode for all units.
FIG. 1 is a graphical representation of one embodiment of the invention showing the highest echelon of interrelationships according to the invention (the third level or echelon of interrelationships).
FIG. 2 is a graphical representation of one embodiment of the invention comprised of; an agricultural-industrial complex of production units for biofuel and animal products production, along with the closely associated units for environmental management, energy conversion and production, food and commercial products production, and land to receive residual nutrients and water and in some instances residual solids; contained within a single contiguous area; along with the main interrelationships between these units.
FIG. 3 is a graphical representation of the main interrelationships between the biofuels unit and other units, comprising (middle echelon) one embodiment of the invention showing the movement of feed and waste materials, energy, and by-products.
FIG. 4 is a graphical representation of the main interrelationships between the animal production unit and other units (middle echelon), comprising one embodiment of the invention showing the movement of feed and waste materials, energy, and by-products.
FIG. 5 is a graphical representation of the main interrelationships between the environmental management unit and other units (middle echelon), as well as relationships between the main components within the environmental management unit (lowest echelon) for one embodiment of the invention showing the movement of feed and waste materials, energy, and by-products.
FIG. 6 is a graphical representation of the main interrelationships between the food and commercial products unit and other units (middle echelon), comprising one embodiment of the invention showing the movement of feed and waste materials, energy, and by-products.
FIG. 7 is a graphical representation of the main interrelationships between the soil crop unit and other units (middle echelon), comprising one embodiment of the invention showing the movement of feed and waste materials, energy, and by-products.
FIG. 8 is a graphical representation of the main interrelationships between the energy conversion unit and other units (middle echelon) when the energy conversion unit is located within a centralized agricultural-industrial complex, comprising one embodiment of the invention showing the movement of feed and waste materials, energy, and by-products.
DETAILED DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 9 is a graphical representation of the main interrelationships between the energy conversion unit and other units (middle echelon) when the energy conversion unit is located within a satellite facility separate from the centralized agricultural-industrial complex, comprising one embodiment of the invention showing the movement of feed and waste materials, energy, and by-products.
The present invention relates to the collection of food and energy production units with attendant processing units into an integrated system capable of substantially boosting the efficiency and economics of food and energy production while greatly reducing the impact on the environment. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the system and process further includes sufficient land area for crop production and uptake of nutrients and water.
IFEPS—Integrated Food and Energy Production System
The definitions and nomenclature provided below are used to help describe the invention.
- Unit—Functional Unit
A collection of processing and production units integrated to take advantage of shared resources of products and energy in and between units, typically where the units are within a limited geographical location (perhaps, for example, about a five to ten mile radius).
- CAPP—Central Agricultural Production Park
A major component of the IFEPS, whose operation contributes a principle processing and production function of the IFEPS.
An agricultural-industrial complex within and/or part of the IFEPS comprising up to six Units for biofuel production, for food and commercial product production, for environmental management of wastes, for energy conversion and production, for animal production, and land to receive residual nutrients and water and in some instances residual solids. All six Units are not required for a CAPP. For example, a CAPP need not include a food and commercial product Unit. In the preferred configuration, the CAPP comprises an ethanol biofuels unit (Unit 1 as defined below), a fluid milk bottling or cheese production food and commercial products unit (Unit 4 as defined below), a contiguous, adjacent or very nearby dairy animal production unit (dairy animal housing, feeding, milk parlor and associated operations or Unit 2 below) (such that materials can be transported between Units without substantial processing and transportation), a renewable energy conversion unit (Unit 6 as defined below) to convert energy and supply heat, steam and potentially other energy forms to the other Units in the CAPP through the combustion of biological solids (and in some cases biogas containing methane), an environmental management unit utilizing the Bion Technology or some equivalent, with or without various other processes to address environmental control requirements (Unit 3 as defined below), and nearby land in agricultural production receiving residual nutrients and water as a soil crop unit (Unit 5 as defined below), which may in turn produce forage for input into the dairy's cattle ration.
- SAF—Satellite Associated Facilities
Other embodiments of the invention could potentially include a CAPP without a fluid milk bottling or cheese production food and commercial products unit (Unit 4 as defined below), a CAPP without a soil crop unit (Unit 5 defined below), and a CAPP without either a Unit 4 or a Unit 5.
- Definition of Specific Units
Facilities preferably with the primary function being animal production (thus including an animal production unit), such as a dairy. A SAF also includes the attendant environmental management Unit for the animal production unit to handle wastes and for environmental controls, an energy conversion unit, and perhaps a soil crop unit. The primary difference between a SAF and a CAPP is that a SAF does not contain a biofuel unit whereas a CAPP does. SAFs may be integrated into the IFEPS and share resources with the CAPP, sending materials and energy to and receiving materials (and in some cases also energy) from the CAPP. Thus, a SAF is a separate complex of units geographically distinct from the CAPP but in close association therewith.
Six processing and production functions (or functional units) within an IFEPS, include, but are not limited to:
1) Fluid Biofuel Unit—facility for the production of biofuels, e.g., ethanol, butanol, biodiesel, etc.
2) Animal Production Unit—livestock facilities such as dairy, beef feeders, friers, broilers, and swine feeders, shrimp, catfish, for the production of food and products therefrom, such as, milk, eggs, animals, etc.
3) Environmental Management Unit—a waste treatment system/process utilizing the Bion Technology or other technologies capable of achieving comparable environmental treatment results and reduced land requirements. Possible alternative technologies may include deep well injection of slurried wastes or treated wastewater effluents and/or membrane separation of waste streams.
4) Food and Commercial Products Unit—production facility or entity generating milk, cheese, or non-food products (e.g., paper), or non-biological products, such as, for example, organic chemicals or organic plastics.
5) Soil Crop Unit—land and surrounding air and soil for remaining or residual nutrient utilization, the primary purpose being the uptake of water and processing of nutrients on agriculturally productive land.
6) Energy Conversion Unit—facility converting gas and/or solids to various forms of energy, such as, for example, steam, heat energy for use to heat materials, streams, flows, etc. through transfer in exchangers, etc.
The current invention is a group of production and processing units (as defined above) collected into an Integrated Food and Energy Production System. In a system according to the invention, an IFEPS has a minimum of four Units, but could include as many as all six of the Units defined above. The Units are configured within a Central Agricultural Production Park (CAPP) and could also include a number of Satellite Associated Facilities (SAF) with additional Units. Preferably, all Units of an IFEPS exist on one piece of property with no SAFs. However, the amount of land required to enable an IFEPS to operate on a single piece of available land may render such a system impractical, thus engendering the use of SAFs to obtain the needed land.
By collecting Units (usually all six of them, but the invention is not limited to all six) in an IFEPS, the Units are able to share and utilize resources that would otherwise require either costly, relatively inefficient, further processing or be lost as waste products and waste heat. Applicants have found that because these Units can be functionally interrelated and their ability to share resources (by-products, wastes and energy) can be quantitatively related to the amounts processed in each Unit and useable by all Units able to share resources, if the amount to be produced in either of the Fluid Biofuel Unit (Unit 1) or the Animal Production Unit (Unit 2) is set, then the size of all the attendant units (e.g., Unit 3, Unit 4, Unit 5 and Unit 6) collected into an IFEPS can and will be determined by the interrelationships, and a series of external boundary conditions or constraints (prices of corn, prices of energy, transportation costs, climate conditions, etc.). Thus, the Units of an IFEPS form a defined system.
It may also be possible for an IFEPS to have more than one of a specific unit type. For example, in the case where the first Animal Production Unit 2 is not large enough (because insufficient contiguous land is available) in a CAPP to appropriately balance the resources of the CAPP, then a second, unconnected Animal Production Unit 2 can be added within the CAPP. So long as the distance of the additional Animal Production Unit 2 is close enough to the other Units within the CAPP to allow sharing of resources without significant processing for storage and transport, a CAPP could include a second Animal Production Unit 2.
A second Animal Production Unit 2 could also be added to an IFEPS in a SAF. If in a SAF, the second Animal Production Unit 2 will primarily share resources with other Units within the SAF, specifically the Environmental Management Unit 3 and the Energy Conversion Unit 6, as opposed to the Units within the CAPP. Accordingly, in such an embodiment of the invention with multiple Animal Production Units 2's, additional functional units may be included in the SAF, such as, for example, the Environmental Management Unit 3. The production size of additional Animal Production Units (Unit 2) or Energy Conversion Unit(s) (Unit 6) in one or more SAFs can be determined by balancing resources and the interrelationships.
The interrelationships considered when balancing the units in an IFEPS include, but are not limited to: a) liquid or slurry streams produced; b) separated solid materials (usually organics) generated; c) high grade heat value generated in the form of steam or high temperature heat transfer medium; d) biogas containing methane generated that may be used as a source for high grade heat; and e) low grade heat value as exchangeable stack gas heat, fluid streams discharged, and hot solid materials.
A system network model could be constructed and utilized to help determine the amounts produced within each unit, the amounts shared between units, the amounts shared between a CAPP and one or more SAFS (if present), and ultimately, balance the IFEPS. The interrelationships between units become component branches in the system network model of the CAPP which is incorporated into a network model of the IFEPS which contains the network models of all SAFs. The system network model may then be subjected to standard optimization techniques to determine optimal economic and functional design for the system and all component units.
FIGS. 1 through 9 provide a graphical representation of a system network model for one example IFEPS with two SAFs. A system network model for such an IFEPS would account for all units and flows shown in the figures, including the subcomponents within specific Units even if not shown in the figures. All models constructed for an IFEPS according to the invention will be similar in that they are based on the interrelationships, but each model will also be unique in that for a specific IFEPS the animal types, type of fuel produced, the specific method of fuel production, the climate, the geography, etc., can influence the configuration of the model and/or the need for specific components, hence the interrelationships. A model of interrelationships for any specific IFEPS will have three echelons. Intra-unit relationships, inter-unit relationships, and inter-complex.
Intra-unit relationships, the first echelon, occur within the boundaries of each functional unit. Since these inner workings of functional units can change for different IFEPS principle products and resulting component unit configurations due to the resulting different resources and by-products available for sharing within units generating different products, these details are not directly addressed here or in the figures. Furthermore, operation of each of these functional units individually, outside the IFEPS, is within the ability of one of ordinary skill in the art. For example, the operational requirements of CAFO dairies, CAFO feedlots, milk bottling plants, cheese production plants, ethanol production plants, and forage production fields are well known to those in each of these established commercial businesses.
With regard to the Environmental Management Unit 3, preferably, an IFEPS would utilize the Bion Technology as presented in FIG. 5 and discussed in detail below.
The second echelon of IFEPS interrelationships for system network modeling is Inter-unit or between functional units. These relationships are those within the CAPP complex and/or within the SAF(s) complex(es) portraying the exchange or sharing of resources from one Unit to another. FIG. 2 presents those interrelationships for a general CAPP complex as detailed above. The functional units of SAF(s) complex(es) incorporated into the IFEPS are also at this Inter-unit level or echelon. SAF complexes operate similar to a CAPP complex without the Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50 and perhaps without the Food and Commercial Products Unit 4 65 or a Soil Crop Unit 5 70. The Inter-unit relationship lacking from a SAF due to the absence of a Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50 and/or a Food and Commercial Products Unit 4 65 is instead shared across the third echelon of interrelationships, whereas the absence of a Soil Crop Unit 5 70 could be the result of additional features, for example deep well injection, of an Environmental Management Unit 3 60, which would be a first echelon interrelationship.
The broadest, highest or third echelon of system network modeling for an IFEPS is that between the CAPP complex and any integrated SAF complex(es) as illustrated by FIG. 1. FIG. 1 presents those interrelationships for a CAPP with two SAFs.
Together these three echelons or levels of interrelationships comprise the IFEPS system network model. Once the boundaries of an IFEPS and its interrelationships are established for a specific system, the system network model can be appropriately used for system design. By way of example, without limitation, the materials included with the provisional patent application to which this application claims priority, U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/811,150, filed on Jun. 5, 2006, were used to size a 40,000 dairy cow integrated ethanol production facility using the Bion Technology.
Typically, model runs set the Unit 1 production size as the primary independent variable. In the case of the ethanol example, the number gallons of fuel ethanol to be produced annually could be set as the primary independent variable. The model then solves for the size of an Animal Production Unit 2 required to use the Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 key by-products and energy. This would usually be the number of dairy animals needed to consume all distillers grains produced by the Fluid Biofuel Unit 1. The model could then be used to determine the size of all other units to balance shared resources and product, byproduct, and waste product use and reuse. Knowing the magnitude of order for these principle relationships, the model may be then run with Unit 2 size as the independent variable and Unit 1 and all others as dependent. Repeated heuristic use of the model allows optimal system unit configurations to be determined. For example, the number of cows, animal bedding and main operating parameter for the Animal Production Unit 2 could be set such that a set low percentage of excess energy will be available to the entire IFEPS during the coldest time period of the year. This approach allows the system to be continually refined for dependable operation and optimal economics.
Once designed, an IFEPS can also be operated using the system network model.
Applicants have discovered that the best way to achieve a practical balance occurs only when the area required for residual nutrient management is greatly decreased from current practice, atmospheric releases are controlled and appropriate byproduct dryness and density for transport and energy recovery are achieved through the optimized application of the Bion Technology as the key component of the subject Environmental Management Unit.
The example configuration and drawings presented here are not exhaustive. Rather, they are intended to illustrate the many opportunities presented when potentially six units of an IFEPS are integrated into a single operating system according to the invention. It is not intended to illustrate all the possible configurations, interactions, interdependencies and advantages to be realized by a full IFEPS. Although each IFEPS is uniquely designed, three criteria of the invention are preferable to practice the invention, namely,
1) utilization of the Bion Technology to remove practical and economic available land area and environmental control constraints for the installation of an IFEPS or utilization or alternative technologies with comparable attributes,
2) sharing of energy for drying and processing solids, and
3) obtaining solids of the appropriate moisture content and density such that the impact of logistics and logistical distances are reduced, while increasing the net energy available and ration value of those solids after transport, and utilizing energy sharing.
The embodiments of the invention shown in FIGS. 1 through 9 could be utilized for a system (the IFEPS) comprised of a dairy for the production of milk, a cheese processing facility, a forage cropping and fuel ethanol facility, a waste treatment facility using the Bion Technology, an energy conversion unit, and a soil crop unit (land).
In FIG. 1, an example IFEPS 5 with a CAPP complex 10 and two component SAF complexes 15 & 20 are shown. The principle transfer from the CAPP complex to any or all SAF complex(es) will be in the form of by-product solids 25 & 30 that are incorporated into the animal production facility's livestock ration and fed to the animals. When ethanol is the product of the Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50, the solids 25 & 30 will be separated wet distillers grains from the fermentation process in Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50. Depending upon specific IFEPS geography, it is also possible for energy in the form of heat or gas to be shared between the IFEPS and SAF complexes, but this is not shown in FIG. 1 for simplicity.
Preferably, Applicants invention would only contain a single (by definition only) CAPP complex 10 and no SAF complexes 15 & 20 in the IFEPS 5. However, using current biofuel production technologies (ethanol, for example) the amount of land required for consumption of the resulting distillers grain is so large that it is nearly impractical to have a single CAPP complex without any SAF complexes. As an example, the smallest practical fuel ethanol unit applying optimum technologies currently available may be a unit producing on the order of about 40 million gallons of ethanol per year. The by-product solids (distillers grains produced) 25 & 30 from such a Unit 1 50 will require a dairy (Unit 2 55) of about 40,000 milk cows (or more) to consume the distillers grains in balance with the about 40 million gallons annual ethanol production. Even with all IFEPS efficiencies realized by the present invention though application of the Bion Technology, this IFEPS comprised of a single CAPP complex would require a 40,000 head dairy and as much as approximately about 4,000 to 8,000 acres of property in a Soil Crop Unit 5 70 to land apply the treated wastewater effluent (as opposed to 40,000 to 80,000 acres for a conventional land application). This requires very nearly 100% of the available land in about a 1.4 to about 2 mile radius using the industry (CAFO) standards for the agronomic uptake of nutrients and water (depending upon specific crops, the climate, soil, cropping practices and geography). Therefore, it is more likely that most, if not nearly all, IFEPS envisioned by Applicants will be comprised of a CAPP complex with one or more SAF complex(es). The more likely CAPP with SAF(s) configuration may economically serve a five to ten mile radius.
The Environmental Management Unit 3 in each SAF complex (61 & 62) and in the CAPP complex (60) will each produce by-product organic solids 35 & 40. All of the total solids generated in the CAPP's Environmental Management Unit 3 60, will be used within the CAPP complex 10 (discussed below). A portion of the total solids generated in the Environmental Management Unit 3 within a SAF complex as indicated in FIG. 1 by 61 & 62 (discussed below) can also be used in the SAF where they are generated. However, the best use of a significant portion of these solids is typically as either an energy source or valuable by-product to be returned to the CAPP 10 via 35 & 40. In the preferred embodiment of the invention, a portion of the solids from the SAF Environmental Management Unit(s) 3 (61 & 62), usually the coarse solids, will be partially dried and compacted, then transported to the CAPP 10 through 35 & 40 for further drying and use in the CAPP's 10 Energy Conversion Unit 6 75 as fuel for energy production and use, with the dryness and density determined by system network optimization. Another portion of the solids generated by the SAF(s) Environmental Management Unit 3 (61 & 62), usually the fine solids, will be partially dried and compacted and transported 35 & 40 to the CAPP 10 where, depending on the operation of Environmental Management Unit 3 60, 61 & 62, they may be further processed to produce marketable organic fertilizer or ration components for other livestock species such as fish.
- Description of Functional Unit Relationships
Unit 1—Fluid Biofuel
The six component functional Units (Unit 1 50, Unit 2 55, Unit 3 60, Unit 4 65, Unit 5 70, and Unit 6 75) in the CAPP complex 10, are graphically shown in FIG. 1. More detail of those interrelationships within the CAPP complex 10 is graphically shown in FIG. 2. There are other significant but less important interrelationships not illustrated in FIG. 2 that may be advantageously exploited to realize the efficiency and increased profitability as a whole of business components incorporated into an IFEPS, but those details have been left out of FIG. 2 for simplicity.
The Fluid Biofuel Production Unit, Unit 1, converts raw materials into biofuel products. Unit 1 therefore contains all raw input processing, biological and physical chemical conversion processes, distillation and/or other liquid product sequestering and/or purifying operations, and the handling and processing of final solids and liquid streams which could include mass evaporators for biofuels units having near zero wastewater discharge, necessary for the biofuel production process. In the case of typical current fuel ethanol units, Intra-unit (internal) processes usually include corn milling, fermentation, distillation, stillage treatment resulting in distillers grains usable in dairy rations, and other distillation by-products.
The main Inter-unit relationships between Unit 1 and the other functional units of the IFEPS are illustrated in FIG. 3 where the example biofuel is ethanol. Major inputs to the Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50 are corn, sugar cane, or other fermentable feed stocks 80 and water 85. The major output is the ethanol or other biofuel 90. As discussed above, the production capacity of this unit is tied to the production capacity of the Animal Production Unit 2 55 in order to allow optimum utilization in Unit 2 55 of the distillers grains produced in Unit 1 50. In most cases these distillers grains 105 will be transported to Unit 2 55 as produced but there will inevitably be some circumstances or case specific systems that may result in alternative handling of the distillers grains. For example, an unexpected decrease in herd numbers could result in disposal of wet distillers grains in wet or in dry form. Similarly, a portion of the distillers grain may be desired outside an IFEPS by another facility for their dairy or for some other unforeseen purpose. Temperature changes could also affect the utilization of wet distillers grain in an IFEPS with further processing potentially being required to facilitate transport of distillers grains.
Low grade heat 100 may also be shared between Unit 1 50 and Unit 2 55 in the form of spent steam or exhaust gas. Possible uses of the low grade heat 100 in Unit 2 55 include use through heat exchangers to supply warmth for the animal housing units or other areas within the dairy operating unit.
In a similar fashion, low grade heat 115 from Unit 1 50 may be used in the Environmental Management Unit 3 60 to warm process wastewater for more efficient treatment within the Environmental Management Unit 3 60, or perhaps to assist drying or other processes. Depending on the nature of the goods produced by the Food & Commercial Products Unit 4 65, opportunities may also exist to use low grade heat 135 from Unit 1 50 in Unit 4 65. For example, spent steam, condensate or warm distillation water may be used to preheat or otherwise provide energy to any number of food processing components, such as, for example, warmth for cheese production, heat for sanitizing or wash water, etc. Wastestreams and solids 120, and/or fluids and slurries 125 produced by Unit 1 50 will also be transported to Unit 3 60 for processing.
- Unit 2—Animal Production
Although all of the distillers grains produced by Unit 1 50 is preferably transferred to the Animal Production Unit 2 55 for consumption by livestock in the preferred embodiment, it may be possible that the Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50 will produce more biological solids (distillers grains and condensed solubles) than can be used by the Animal Production Unit 2 55 for rations 105. In that case, excess biological solids (distillers grains and condensed solubles) 145 can be transferred directly to the Energy Conversion Unit 6 75 for combustion or other energy extraction processing. The predominant form of these solids is most likely to be excess distillers grains and condensed solubles. In turn, the Energy Conversion Unit 6 75 will convert these solids along with solids from the Environmental Management Unit 3 60 or other sources into high grade heat from direct fire for boilers, steam production, or heat exchanged to other heat exchange media 150 for use by the Fluid Biofuels Unit 1 50. It may also be feasible for a portion of the fluid fuel production 332 from the Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50 to be used in the Energy Conversion Unit 6 75. Product from the Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50 in the form of ethanol, butanol or other fermentation products or processed biofuel 136 could potentially be inputs to the Food and Commercial Processing Unit 4 65 processes as needed for the specific product being produced, for example into beverage grade ethanol, organic chemicals or organic plastics.
While production of animal products, such as animals for slaughter and fluid milk is the core function of the Animal Production Unit 2, its use of the by-product organics from Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 in an IFEPS is a significant benefit of the invention. Animal production in Unit 2 includes all housing, animal feeding and nutrition, cleaning, animal health, animal moving and waste handling functions. In a dairy unit, this would also include the harvesting of fluid milk and all handling and cleaning appurtenances thereto, and for a poultry egg laying unit the appurtenances needed to gather and handle eggs produced.
The main Inter-unit relationships between Unit 2 and the other IFEPS functional units are graphically shown in FIG. 4. FIG. 4 illustrates the major inputs of bedding materials and animal ration constituents 155 required to provide a complete diet along with the key input from Unit 1 50 of the distillers grains 105 and water 160 for animal intake and cleaning. Products are fluid milk 165 and animals for slaughter 170 in the dairy instance, animals for slaughter 170 for beef feeding operations, and eggs and animals for slaughter 170 in the case of a layer facility.
- Unit 3—Environmental Management
As detailed previously, the number of animals used in the Animal Production Unit 2 55 is dependent on the capacity and thus quantity of distillers grains output from the Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50 in order to allow optimum utilization of the distillers grains produced. In most cases, these distillers grains 105 will be transported to the Animal Production Unit 2 105 as produced, but in some cases further processing may be required to facilitate transport. Low grade heat from Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50 may also be shared with the Animal Production Unit 2 55 in the form of spent steam or exhaust gas 100 that may be used through heat exchangers to supply warmth for the animal housing units or other areas within the dairy operating unit. When a Food and Commercial Products Unit 4 65 is present, opportunities may exist for incorporating byproducts into the animal ration 175. In the example of cheese processing, whey, whey proteins or other whey solids may become a valuable component of the animal ration 175. Forage or other ration constituents 180 may be grown and harvested from the Soil Crop Unit 5 70 and supplied to Unit 2 55. Bedding solids and other wastes 185, and manure and cleaning waste slurries 190 are transported to the Environmental Management Unit 3 60 for processing with some of these solids returned in the form of renewed or recycled bedding materials 195. The description above details the interrelationships in general. However, when an Animal Production Unit 2 56/57 is located in one or more SAF(s) 15/20 complexes as shown in FIG. 1, similar interrelationships exist between it and the SAF(s)' Unit 3 61/62, Unit 5 71/72 and Unit 6 76/77 as detailed above. The SAF(s)' Animal Production Unit 2 56/57 also receives a portion of the CAPP Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50 primary by-product 105, distillers grains, as well. Depending primarily upon distance, the SAF(s)' Animal Production Unit 2 56/57 may or may not receive heat energy 100 from the Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50.
The Environmental Management Unit 3 provides important functions that help enable the present invention, making an entire IFEPS practical and economic. More specifically, the Environmental Management Unit 3 prevents substantial atmospheric pollution, avoids the release of excessive greenhouse gases and odors, and prevents nuisance and health complaints, by substantially reducing the release of troublesome gasses such as ammonia, methane, oxides of nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide and volatile organic compounds as compared to conventional practice. Preferably, the Environmental Management Unit 3 utilizes the Bion Technology to treat waste streams in an environmentally safe and compliant manner. The Environmental Management Unit 3 also allows for reduced land requirements for livestock facilities. For example, without limitation, for Environmental Management Unit 3's utilized for CAFOs, herd concentrations are preferably greater than about 3 cows per acre of land, and more preferably, greater than about 20 cows per acre of land.
In the embodiment graphically shown in FIG. 5, the details of the Bion Technology have been simplified into four main components within the Environmental Management Unit 3 60, namely, a coarse solids separation component 1, a biological process component 2, a fine solids separation component 3, and a solids drying process component 4. Each of these four components exist in the Bion Technology. Those components of the Bion Technology with no direct interrelationships with the IFEPS units (such as, for example, internal recycle, reactor volume configurations or sub-volumes, specific mechanisms and/or technologies applied internally, etc.) are still required and present in Environmental Management Unit 3 60 of the present invention, but are not detailed herein. Those portions of the Bion Technology not expressly described herein are incorporated by reference to the patent applications and patents identified above.
The Environmental Management Unit 3 60 has substantial relationships with all other IFEPS units. Referring to FIG. 2, it can be seen that Unit 3 60 potentially has seventeen interrelationship pathways to other units compared with the Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50 which has eleven, Unit 2 55 which has none, and Unit 4 65 which has twelve, Unit 6 75 which has thirteen and Unit 5 70 which has four. The Environmental Management Unit 3 60 is thus seen to be very important to an IFEPS and the present invention. The coarse solids 240, 245, and 250 are utilized by the process of the invention as an energy source, and those solids can also be dried for transportation and further utilization as an energy source outside of an IFEPS.
As shown in FIG. 5, wastewater or waste slurries from Unit 1 50 in the form of residual wastestreams or blow-down water from the production of biofuel are transferred through 125 to the Environmental Management Unit 3 60. If a Unit 4 65 is present, various wastestreams needing environmental management (e.g., for cheese making waste whey and cleaning/sanitizing wastewater) may likewise be transferred via 200 to 209 to the Environmental Management Unit 3 60. In most cases, the majority of waste (liquid and solids) transferred to Unit 3 60 will be from the Animal Production Unit 2 55 through 190. For the dairy installation example, stream 190 may include manure and manure slurries, animal area wash-down or flush water, and sanitizing cleaning waters from milk harvesting, handling and storage. Streams 125, 200 and 190, are combined either prior to or within the Environmental Management Unit 3 60 to form 209 and the flow is equalized prior to introduction into the Coarse Solids Separation Compartment I within the Environmental Management Unit 3 60. At this point, the flow may pass through heat exchangers using low grade heat 115 from Unit 1 50 to raise the temperature for processing in the Environmental Management Unit 3 60. Heat from Unit 1 50 may also be introduced via exchangers at other points within Unit 3 60 to preheat or warm but are not shown in FIG. 5. Depending on the unique energy requirements of a specific embodiment of the present invention, heat energy 405 from Unit 6 76/77 at the SAF complex and heat energy 400 from Unit 6 75 at the CAPP may be used in a similar fashion either as flow entering 209 to Unit 3 60 or at other locations not shown.
In some instances, the Environmental Management Unit 3 60 may include an Anaerobic Process Component 11 before the Coarse Solids Separation Component 1. Inclusion of anaerobic processing creates biogas containing methane that can be extracted advantageously and economically for valuable energy production. A portion of the biogas produced will be used to maintain the Anaerobic Process Component's 11 reactor temperature. Excess gas available 205 can be distributed via 215, 220 and/or 225 to the Solids Drying and Processing Component 4 within Unit 3 60, to an Energy Conversion Unit 6 76/77 located within a SAF complex 15/20, or to Energy Conversion Unit 6 75 located at a CAPP complex 10. For an Environmental Management Unit 3 60 with an Anaerobic Process Component 11 the warm stream is directed via 210 to the Coarse Solids Separation Component 1 and, depending on the energy requirements of a specific embodiment, the stream may receive low grade heat 230 from the Solids Drying and Processing Component 4 to boost or maintain process stream temperature. For any specific installation, the low grade heat exchangers capturing energy from the Solids Drying and Processing Component 4 (as shown by 230 in FIG. 5) and from Unit 1 50 via 115 may both occur before or after an Anaerobic Process Component 11, if present, or after the Coarse Solids Separation Component 1, or within the Biological Process Component 2, so that the energy available may be used to optimum advantage for the maintenance of process stream temperature, thus enhancing biological activity and processing efficiency.
The Biological Process Component 2 within Unit 3 60 is preferably a biological treatment process described in detail in U.S. application Ser. No. 10/600,936, filed on Jun. 20, 2003, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,908,495 and/or U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/709,171 filed on Nov. 10, 2000, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,689,274, and/or U.S. Ser. No. 11,106,751 filed on Apr. 15, 2005, and/or U.S. Application No. [not yet known]entitled Low Oxygen Biologically Mediated Nutrient Removal filed on Nov. 3, 2006, a low oxygen biologically mediated conversion process that is an effective processing approach for rapid, substantially odorless, biologically mediated conversion of the wastes (including nutrients). When the influent oxygen loading and the dissolved oxygen concentration in a biological treatment process are suitably regulated to maintain a dissolved oxygen concentration of less than about 2.0 mg/L, preferably less than about 0.1 mg/L in the process, a series of compatible, and overlapping and simultaneously occurring, ecological niches are formed. These niches so formed promote the growth and coexistence of desirable major populations of facultative heterotrophic fermentors, autotrophic nitrifiers, facultative heterotrophic denitrifiers, and autotrophic ammonium denitrifiers to the growth inhibition of other microbial populations such as heterotrophic aerobes, which usually dominate the bacteria present in conventional wastewater treatment processes.
The Coarse Solids Separation Component 1 of Unit 3 60 captures larger, mostly organic materials present in stream 210 composed mostly of cellulosics from the animal ration, and recycled bedding in some embodiments. The effluent stream from this separation process is conveyed via 235 to the Biological Process Component 2. The separated coarse largely cellulosic solids 240 have value for the energy they contain and potentially, once they are dried appropriately, as bedding for the animals 195. Distillers grains in excess of animal ration needs 120 from Unit 1 50 are also high in energy containing cellulosics, fats and oils. As discussed above, the proper moisture content and density required to optimally use these solids will be determined by the unique configuration of each IFEPS' network model. Nevertheless, Applicants invention includes the process to obtain these solids and the resulting high energy solids resulting from that process.
In addition, solids to be used as bedding must be processed to the correct dryness and to reduce bacterial levels. These functions are performed by the Solids Drying and Processing Component 4. Paper or other largely dry cellulosic or compatible solids from Unit 2 55, via 185, the coarse separated solids via 240 and excess solids from Unit 1 50, via 120, are processed in component 4 for transport via 245 to nearby SAF Unit 6 76/77 or via 250 to the CAPP Unit 6 75 or returned via 195 to Unit 2 55 for use as recycled animal bedding. In turn, a portion of the energy obtained from the combustion of these solids 254 in the SAF Unit 6's 76/77 is used as high grade heat in the Solids Drying and Processing Component 4 to treat coarse solids via 255 and fine solids via 260. In a similar fashion, SAF Unit 6 76/77 low grade heat energy 258 from stack gas or other exchangers may also be captured and utilized in the Solids Drying and Processing Component 4 as shown by 256 and 257.
After the Biological Process Component 2 the treated stream flows via 265 to a Fine Solids Separation Component 3 of Unit 3 60. The fine solids separated contain a high proportion of microbial solids and are thus high in nitrogen and crude protein. The Fine Solids Separation Component 3 also captures particulate phosphorus from the stream, thus the fine solids also contain significant levels of phosphorus. Typically these fine solids are generated at a high moisture content and are directed via 270 to the Solids Drying and Processing Component 4 for drying and perhaps further processing (granulation, pelletizing, etc.) for eventual high value uses 275, such as organic fertilizer or animal rations 280. Further processing of the solids, such as, for example, compaction or compressing, may be preferred to optimize transport for further processing at the CAPP 285. The final fate of the fine solids intermediates processed at the CAPP is use off-site as organic fertilizer or animal rations as shown 290. The final treated wastestream with the majority of the nitrogen, phosphorus and other troublesome materials removed is then directed via 295 to furnish irrigation water and fertilizer value for plant nourishment and growth to the Soil Crop Unit 5 70. Depending upon the specific technologies applied in each unique IFEPS situation, nitrogen and phosphorus removals from about 70% to 90% and even higher are achieved. Air emissions are controlled by up to about 98% reduction depending on the comparison's basis.
Actual implementation of an IFEPS requires the ability to transport materials between the CAPP and the SAFs (when present). Wet distillers grains are continuously trucked from the CAPP to the SAFs. Accordingly, the benefit and viability of a CAPP is affected by the transportability of the dried coarse solids and the wet distillers grain. The efficiency of an IFEPS is enhanced by the balancing of the transportation and handling capability/requirements of the coarse solids and the wet distillers grain. The transportation and handling of the coarse solids is enhanced by the ability to increase solids density through mechanisms such as, for example, compaction, pressing, etc. Ideally, the density and transportation and handling requirements of the dried coarse solids from the SAFs can be tailored to meet the requirements (e.g., the same number of trucks per day or, use same transport mechanism) for back hauling of wet distillers grain to the CAPP.
- Unit 4—Food and Commercial Products
In its simplest form, an Environmental Management Unit 3 comprising only a means to separate the biological solids that come from an Animal Production Unit 2. The separated solids could then be utilized as an energy source in the Energy Conversion Unit 6. Alternatively, and perhaps equally simple, is an Environmental Management Unit 3 that dries separate biological solids from an Animal Production Unit 2. The dried solids could then be utilized as an energy source in the Energy Conversion Unit 6. Preferably, the biological solids are dried to at least 20 percent solids prior to transport to the Energy Conversion Unit 6.
There are many food and commercial production facilities and businesses that can be advantageously incorporated into an IFEPS. In particular, food processing enterprises such as, for example, fluid milk bottling, cheese production, ice cream production, vegetable canning, vegetable freezing, fruit juice production, wine, soft drink bottling, egg breaking, egg processing, meat packing, etc. are possibilities. Many commercial entities may also be candidates. A saw mill, paper or specialty products facility may add to the solids energy conversion inputs to Unit 6, or bedding for animals. Ideal candidates can utilize one or more products or by-products from the Fluid Biofuel Units 1 50 and/or the Animal Production Unit 2 55 and potentially contribute products or by-products to the Fluid Biofuel Units 1 50 and/or the Animal Production Unit 2 55 as well. FIG. 6 graphically shows the Inter-unit relationships between a Food and Commercial Processing Unit 4 65 and other units in an IFEPS 5.
The Food and Commercial Processing Unit 4 65 could receive inputs directly from the Animal Production Unit 2 55 via 176, such as fluid milk from a dairy to a cheese processing unit, or biofuel from the Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50 via 136, which could be ethanol, butanol or other fermentation products or processed biofuel. The Food and Commercial Processing Unit 4 65 processes inputs as needed for the specific product being produced, for example, ethanol or other biofuels 310 into beverage grade ethanol, organic chemicals or organic plastics, see FIG. 6.
There will often be other inputs to the Food and Commercial Processing Unit 4 65 such as other organic chemicals 295, fruit juices, etc., and/or raw or partially in liquid form or solid partially processed input materials 300 such as tree logs, animal carcasses or meat, eggs, other grains, flour, etc. In most cases some significant water 305 will also be required for the process at the Food and Commercial Processing Unit 4 65. Heat energy may be used in the form of low grade spent steam or exhaust gas 321 from the Solids Drying Components 4 of the Environmental Management Unit 3 60. In many potential Food and Commercial Processing Unit 4 65 facilities, low grade heat may also be shared from processes 321 with Unit 3 60. Many Food and Commercial Processing Unit 4 65 facilities will produce wash-down, sanitizing and other fluid spent process residues 200 and waste solids 320 as well, which will all be managed by the Environmental Management Unit 3 60. By its proximity to the Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50, Unit 4 65 may also take advantage of low grade heat energy 135 from Unit 1.
- Unit 5—Soil Crop
Depending upon the type of products made in Unit 4 65, there may be substantial solid residue by-products that could be used directly in the Energy Conversion Unit 6 75 via 342. This could be sawdust for direct input via 342 or moist cellulosics requiring drying via 320 in Unit 3 60 before being sent to Unit 6 75 from Unit 3 60 via 250 (see FIG. 5). As a prime energy source for the entire IFEPS 5, the Energy Production Unit 6 75 may also export either low grade heat 330 or high grade heat 325 energy to the Food and Commercial Energy Unit 4 65. The Food and Commercial Energy Unit 4 65 could transport solids via 175 to the Animal Production Unit 2 55, such as whey from cheese production for incorporation into animal rations. Production from the Animal Production Unit 2 55 could be sent directly, via 176, to the Food and Commercial Energy Unit 4 65 as milk to a cheese plant, as live animals to a slaughter facility, or as eggs from an egg production unit.
As is the case for many agricultural endeavors, uptake of water and processing of nutrients on agriculturally productive land is the preferred method for utilizing the major by-products of an IFEPS. As shown graphically in FIG. 7, the principle inputs to the Soil Crop Unit 5 70 are the liquid discharge 295 and solids 290 from the Environmental Management Unit 3 60. Sufficient crops must be grown and harvested in the Soil Crop Unit 5 70 to remove the nitrogen and phosphorus remaining after treatment in Unit 3 60. In some instances, the total combined nutrients remaining in the discharged solids 290 and liquid 295 from the Environmental Management Unit 3 60 after treatment will not have the required ratio of nutrients to meet the unique nutritional need of the specific crop being grown in the Soil Crop Unit 5 70 and will thus require supplemental nutrients in the form of fertilizer inputs 333 to achieve the needed balance. Also depending on the climate, soil and crop at a Soil Crop Unit 5 70, additional water 335 may be needed to optimize crop growth and nutrient uptake.
- Unit 6—Energy Conversion
A Soil Crop Unit 5 70 produces forage or other valuable crops 180 that are the prime route of resource recovery and reuse of nutrients by the Animal Production Unit 2 55. Relatively minor but significant nutrient and mineral inputs to the soil in the Soil Crop Unit 5 70, comes in the form of ash 350 remaining after the combustion of organic solids or other materials in the Energy Conversion Unit 6 75. The treated water 295 from the Environmental Management Unit 3 60 and any additional water 335 needed by the actively growing crop in a Soil Crop Unit 5 70 moves onto and through the soil and the plant's rooted zone. The rate at which these liquids 295 and 335 are applied and the nutrients carried by the Environmental Management Unit 3 60 discharge 295, along with any supplemental nutrients added 333 is matched to the crops needs in Soil Crop Unit 5 70. Thus, the amount of nutrient passing through and out of the crop's rooted zone is insignificant and any water in excess of the crops needs enters the groundwater 340 (in some instances this water may be collected by under drains and returned to surface waters). The balance of the water applied to the Soil Crop Unit 5 70 is either incorporated into the crop harvested 180 or returns to the atmosphere by surface evaporation or plant evapotranspiration 345.
The Energy Conversion Unit 6 75 serves as the supplier of renewable energy to the IFEPS. FIGS. 8 and 9 graphically illustrate the major interrelationships that typically occur between Unit 6 75, 76/77 and other IFEPS Units. The Energy Conversion Unit 6 75 converts biological solids, biogas containing methane, or other combustible materials (including high energy content solid waste) generated by other IFEPS Units into usable forms of high grade and low grade heat energy. As for other Units within the IFEPS, there are typically additional, less significant, interrelationships between Unit 6 and other Units not shown in FIGS. 8 and 9. The Energy Conversion Unit 6's 75 energy conversion functions will typically occur in the CAPP 10, and they can also occur 76/77 within one or more SAFs (15 and 20). Due to their proximity, a CAPP complex Unit 6 75 may have significant interrelationships and resource sharing with the Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50 and the Food and Commercial Products Unit 4 65, if present, located within the CAPP, as shown in FIG. 8. A Unit 6 76/77 located in a SAF complex will typically not have that opportunity due to its distance of separation from the CAPP (but not in all cases) as shown in FIG. 9.
FIG. 8 depicts an Energy Conversion Unit 6 75 operating at or within the CAPP 10. In most cases the majority of energy entering Unit 6 75 will come from the Environmental Management Unit 3 60 in two renewable energy forms, namely, biological solids 250 and, when an anaerobic process is used in the Environmental Management Unit, biogas containing methane 225. These two renewable forms will be combusted in a manner in which environmental emissions to atmosphere are controlled. The generated high grade heat and low grade heat will then be used in other units. A portion of the converted energy is returned to the Environmental Management Unit 3 60 to assist in solids drying and solids processing, and to maintain process temperatures 400 for the entire Environmental Management Unit 3's 60 component operations and processes in the form of both low grade heat 256 and 257 (stack gases) and high grade heat 254 (usually steam or direct heat transfer). After combustion within the Energy Conversion Unit 6 75, residual solids containing minerals and some nutrients from the organic solids feed-stream or residual ash after combustion are transported via 350 to the Soil Crop Unit 5 70 for incorporation into the soil and crop uptake. Minor residual moisture and heat not economically recoverable are released to the atmosphere 355 and may be treated using conventional emission control technologies to further reduce air discharges.
When located within the CAPP 10 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the Energy Conversion Unit 6 75 will share resources with both the Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50, and if present, the Food and Commercial Products Unit 4 65 when it is economically advantageous to do so. In a reciprocal fashion, the Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50 will potentially have excess distillers grains or minor amounts of other combustible solids such as off-specification or spoiled corn or solid wastes 145 that can be converted in the Energy Conversion Unit 6 75. Depending upon the type of products made in the Food and Commercial Products Unit 4 65, there may also be substantial solid residue by-products 342 that could be used directly in the Energy Conversion Unit 6 75. In some cases, it may also be feasible for a portion of the biofuel production 332 from the Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50 to be used in the energy Conversion Unit 6 75.
For an Energy Conversion Unit 6 75 operating as part of the CAPP 10, most of the energy produced is sent to the Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50 as high grade heat energy in the form of steam or heat transfer media 150 and depending upon the products produced in the Food and Commercial Products Unit 4 65, it may consume a portion of the high grade heat 325 produced as well. In a similar fashion, a CAPP 10 Energy Conversion Unit 6 75 may share low grade heat 330 with the Fluid Biofuel Unit 1 50 and the Food and Commercial Products 4 65.
FIG. 9 graphically shows the interrelationships between an Energy Conversion Unit 6 within a SAF and the other Units within the SAF complex. The energy entering the Energy Conversion Unit 6 76 and/or 77 will flow from the SAF Environmental Management Unit 3 61 and/or 62 in two renewable energy forms, namely biological solids 245 and, when an anaerobic process is used, biogas containing methane 220. Energy is returned to the Environmental Management Unit 3 61 and/or 62 to assist in solids drying and solids processing, and to maintain process temperatures 405 for the entire Environmental Management Units 3 61 and/or 62 component operations and processes in the form of both low grade heat 256 & 257 (stack gases) and high grade heat 254 (usually steam). After combustion, residual solids containing minerals and some nutrients from the organic solids feed-stream 350 are transported to the Soil Crop Unit 5 71 and/or 72 for incorporation into the soil and crop uptake. Minor residual moisture and heat not economically recoverable 355 is released to the atmosphere.