Abstract

According to executive order 18-01 and 20-01 signed by the Washington State Governor, all newly constructed public buildings and facilities shall be designed to be net-zero energy capable. To respond to the governor’s order, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has asked for the design of a system that can use biowaste that accumulates at their safety rest stop areas to generate electricity to power the facilities. The goal of this project seeks to assist WSDOT by designing, building, and testing the capability of a small-scale methane energy generator that can be scaled to fit the needs of any rest area. There are a small number of methane generators in existence [1.]. However, they are not designed to satisfy the needs of net-zero energy facilities and safety rest areas. In this work, a net-zero methane generation system is presented to show how it can convert biowaste into methane for electricity at rest areas. The model is composed of two tanks to store the biomaterial, a filtration system to remove hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and carbon dioxide (CO2), a generator that runs on methane gas, and a photovoltaic system that powers temperature sensing devices. Through testing, it was shown that this system could generate energy through the use of bovine waste. Further improvements are needed to increase methane production and make operation more efficient. Future testing on human waste from a safety rest area will also be necessary before proving that the system can meet energy generation requirements.

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