Temperatures in the single digits didn’t faze University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and UW Oshkosh Foundation leaders and project partners from cutting the ribbon on a new, 1.4 megawatt biodigester at Rosendale Dairy in Pickett on Dec. 11.

About 100 guests — project partners and supporters — gathered at the state’s largest dairy farm to inaugurate the new renewable energy plant and research facility — the culmination of approximately two to three years of collaboration, planning, engineering and construction.

“Here, on this remarkable farm, we proudly work with this array of partners to turn waste to energy,” Chancellor Richard Wells said during pre-ribbon-cutting remarks. “And, in doing so, we will provide our students an unparalleled educational experience. Here, students and faculty will demonstrate how Wisconsin agriculture and farming communities can remain vibrant for generations to come. They can power their operations. They can protect the earth. They can fortify the bottom line. It all works in harmony. It’s the Wisconsin Idea. We pursue and reach breakthroughs that will improve our state, its businesses, its ecology, its people.”

The $7 million biogas production facility and living, learning, renewable-energy laboratory–funded by the UW Oshkosh Foundation and developed in partnership with  Rosendale Dairy-owner Milk Source, Soil Net, Alliant Energy, Infinity Lawn and Garden, BIOFerm Energy Systems and its parent company the Viessmann Group—will use the more-than 8,500-cow farm’s livestock waste to generate, capture and combust methane. The power will return to the grid while UW Oshkosh’s carbon footprint will be dramatically lessened — ultimately, the institution’s original 2025 goal of carbon neutrality will be curtailed by several years thanks to the “greenness” of the biodigester.

The facility will process approximately 240 tons per day of separated solids—23 percent total solids will be combined with up to 58,000 gallons per day of liquid manure produced by the dairy’s 8,500 cows. The mixture is referred to as the “substrate” for the system. Two cylindrical anaerobic digestion reactors built by Viessmann Group each have a 1-million-gallon capacity. Methane generated by the digestion process will be combusted in engines on the site. The digester units will produce up to 1.4 megawatts of electricity, which is enough electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 1,200 homes, according to BIOFerm.

See more from the Dec. 11 groundbreaking ceremony at Rosendale Dairy…

The Rosendale Dairy project adds to a growing list of collaborations between the University and Viessmann Group.

In addition to UW Oshkosh’s dry fermentation anaerobic digester — which began producing power in 2011 — the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA), through the Department of Administration and State Energy Program, supported a feasibility study to install anaerobic digestion units on family farms with fewer than 500 head of dairy cattle. The 2012 “EUCOlino” (OY-co-lino) project conducted by BIOFerm and UW Oshkosh through the UW Oshkosh Foundation, involves the first small-scale biodigester unit in Wisconsin. The feasibility study and test project is located on the Allen Farm, about six miles northwest of Oshkosh. The specific project and technology, referred to as the “Titan 55,” involves a small-scale, wet biodigester with a 55 kW engine. It is innovative, scaled energy technology once again championed by Viessmann and BIOFerm.