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Since the groundbreaking for the nation’s first commercial-scale dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh on Sept. 15, 2010, Boldt Construction and BIOFerm Energy Systems have been hard at work constructing the building through winter’s rain, sleet and snow.

During the week of Jan. 31 to Feb. 4, Boldt Construction workers used heavy machinery to install metal doors and enclose each of the four dry fermentation chambers. They also moved forward with finishing the operations office, which is attached to the side of the liquid fermentation and gas chambers.

The renewable energy facility needs 6,000 tons of organic biowaste per year, which is to be provided by campus and community sources, to produce 400 kilowatt output. Throughout this process, added material will remain in each fermentation chamber for 28 days, with one out of the four chambers rotating out each week.

“The biodigester will take plant materials and food waste into the chambers and extract gas as the compost process continues,” said Craig Burkhart, BIOFerm project manager. “The liquid runoff also will be extracted and repurposed for future dry fermentation processes.”

The dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester was a collaborative effort with the UW Oshkosh Foundation, which purchased the land, and is partially funded with a $232,587 grant from Wisconsin Focus on Energy and a $500,000 grant from the federal government.

The plant is located on Dempsey Trail, adjacent to the Witzel Avenue Campus Service Center.

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