The University of California-Davis has applied for a patent on new a methane generator technology. Known as the APS Digester, the system converts animal manure to energy by using a mix of bacteria in an oxygen-deprived environment to break down organic materials. The result is a medium-Btu gas that’s about 60 percent methane. Scientists say this biogas is suitable to produce heat or electricity.

Conceding that anaerobic digestion is not a new concept, Ruihong Zhang, UC-Davis agricultural engineer, says this two-phase, closed-loop system is distinctly different from other digesters. He says this unit promotes the best environmental conditions for the bacteria involved. This two-phase system allows solids to be loaded and unloaded without disrupting the anaerobic environment of the bacteria system.

Currently, the technology has been licensed exclusively to Onsite Power Systems of Fresno, Calif., which is coordinating the construction of a small-scale pilot plant at UC-Davis. A commercial version featuring 10, 350,000-gallon tanks is underway in Florida. Costs run in the $20-million range for systems of that size, but experts expect costs to drop dramatically within five years.

For more information, go to http://danr.ucop.edu/ calag/ and click on “ news.” HERD HEALTH Designed to Eradicate DiseasenThe University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine’s new Swine Disease Eradication Center will use the latest scientific and farm manage-ment techniques to make disease eradication an attainable goal.

The new center, located on the university’s St. Paul campus, held the first international scientific symposium on swine disease eradication in September. The Center will utilize the University’s six faculty veterinarians devoted exclusively to swine health, a diagnostic lab that performs more than 15,000 porcine tests each year and swine pathology to look at swine disease eradication options.

Faculty involved in the Center will work closely with colleagues at other universities and with allied industry. The center is creating an Industry Advisory Board composed of 10 to 12 representatives from swine-related companies, including swine genetics, pharmaceuticals and production management firms. It also will work closely with the Minnesota Pork Producers Association by providing individual, on-farm eradication strategies.

For more information about the center, visit the Web site at http://www.cvm.umn.edu/sdec.