Deriving power from
|PHOTO BY RICK WOOD STANWOOD/CAMANO NEWS Daryl
Maas, owner of Farm Power Northwest, stands in front of
a generator that will soon be powered by gas derived
from cow manure.
is one idea that's full of possibilities.
A dairy farm with 700 cows creates a lot of milk. It also creates
a lot of manure.
Daryl Maas, owner of Farm Power Northwest, would love to see more
of it because he plans to turn the manure into electricity.
The company broke ground on a new manure digester, located
northwest of Mount Vernon west of Conway, in October of last
If everything goes right, they will begin to produce energy by
the end of August, said Maas.
When it comes online, the Rexville-Beaver Marsh digester will
have an output of 750 kilowatt hours per day, or roughly enough to
power 550 homes, he said.
Maas is banking on the success of the Rexville site to encourage
more farms to come onboard.
"We have to start kind of small," he said. "We'd love to expand
Maas said he would like to bring a project to Stanwood.
An earlier feasibility study conducted within the Stillaguamish
Valley concluded it was too costly to install the infrastructure to
collect, transport and process the manure from farms that were too
geographically spread out.
However, Maas envisions a multi-farm proposal, backed by state
incentives that would make it feasible to develop a digester site
for area farms.
There has been considerable interest here, he said.
Two brothers and a couple dozen local investors, including one
from Camano Island, comprise the company.
Anaerobic digester technology is nothing new.
"They've been using it in wastewater treatment for a long time,"
The process is fairly simple.
Two farms, supplying manure from more than 1,100 cows, flank the
Cow manure, together with food scraps, is brought into a holding
Once collected, the manure is heated to about 100 degrees
Fahrenheit, which accelerates bacteria in the collection tank. As
bacteria break the manure down, gas — mostly methane — is released
and fuels an electrical generator.
Even the generator works on energy-efficient principles, said
Maas. Natural heat, produced by the biological breakdown of the
waste, produces a heated water by-product.
"We don't have to burn any fuel to get hot water," he said.
Maas got involved with the manure-to-power concept when his
brother Kevin was working on a project for his Masters of Business
Administration degree on the subject.
"I was always interested in energy and farming," said Maas. "We
grew up around farms."
Maas said he doesn't want to see the farming lifestyle go
"The idea is to keep farms viable," he said.
Maas will host a tour of the Rexville facility this Sat., June 27
at 10:30 a.m., meeting at Rexville Grocery, 19271 Best Road, Mount
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