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Last update: 3/17/08

[University of Wisconsin-Green Bay News Release]

For Immediate Release:

March 17, 2008

Katers wins grant to study vegetable waste processing

GREEN BAY-Waste from vegetable processing may be turned into energy and possibly eventually into other useful products as a result of a study funded by a $29,885 grant from the Midwest Food Processors Association, Inc. to University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Prof. John F. Katers.

The study for Del Monte Foods will evaluate waste management options for solid waste and wastewater generated at vegetable processing facilities primarily for the shucks and cobs from corn processing at its plant in Cambria.

"Del Monte is interested in trying to minimize its costs of materials handling and at the same time look for opportunities to produce renewable energy," says Katers, explaining that reducing the volume of waste would mean less material to haul off-site and dispose of. The food processor is looking at the possibility of using the energy generated for heating.

The study will take place in laboratory facilities at UW-Green Bay. In the first part of the study, corn silage will be composted using various additives and methods. In the second part, the resulting liquid and waste liquid from the Cambria plant will be fed into an anaerobic digester that can convert the waste into energy. UW-Green Bay chemist, Prof. Michael Zorn, will co-direct the project and lead the analyses. The study will provide research experience for two UW-Green Bay students, one a graduate student and one an undergraduate.

Some solid waste will be left at the end of the digestion process. Says Katers, "One of the best things that could happen is that the solids will have a enough nutritional content to be used as fertilizer." The result would be zero waste.

Katers, an engineer, joined the UW-Green Bay faculty in 1999. He has received several grants, many involving converting dairy farm waste into energy. He also directed a $160,000 two-year federal Eisenhower Professional Development grant aimed at improving science and math learning for middle- and high school teachers. Katers won a 2004-05 UW System Wisconsin Ideas Fellow award for public service to local communities.

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08-61 | Contact: Virginia Dell, (920) 465-2144

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