Agricultural Science: Grant approved for meth...
Agricultural Science

Grant approved for methane reducing biofilters

Imago / ZUMA Wire
“These biofilters will contribute to the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of livestock production and processing systems,” said Juliana Vasco-Correa, assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering.
“These biofilters will contribute to the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of livestock production and processing systems,” said Juliana Vasco-Correa, assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering.

USA, College Township. Penn State’s scientist Juliana Vasco-Correa received a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to lead a team conducting research on using biofilters to mitigate methane from enteric emissions produced in livestock facilities.

The assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering and her team will use the three-year award to fund a study of the causes of nitrous oxide formation in biofilters used for methane abatement of enclosed livestock systems.


Biofilters are a promising solution for the mitigation of methane emissions from agricultural systems, according to Vasco-Correa. Still, the potential generation of the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide in these biofilters can hinder their applicability.

The project’s objectives are to test the effects of ammonia concentration in the inlet air, the moisture content, and the packing media compaction on biofilter performance and nitrous oxide formation.

The researchers’ central hypothesis is that these properties have a strong influence on the production of nitrous oxide in biofilters and that the understanding of these mechanisms can be manipulated to help control the production of nitrous oxide in the future, according to Vasco-Correa.

“The results of this project will allow us to propose methods to regulate nitrous oxide formation in methane biofilters and will provide a strong foundation for future biofilter designs and specifications,” she said. “That will make us competitive for future funding to develop economically feasible methane biofiltration systems for livestock facilities.”

An engineered system developed by Vasco-Correa removes gas waste from livestock facilities, and she believes the biofilter could be entirely made from biobased materials and commercialised in the marketplace.

Also on the research team are Mary Ann Bruns, professor of soil microbiology and biogeochemistry, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management; Lauren Greenlee, associate professor, chemical engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering; and Tom Richard, professor of agricultural and biological engineering, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

Source: Penn State University

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