Events

Sustainable Agricultural Districts & Biomethane from Wheat Straw

Dec 14

New model for Kingman County economic growth proposed. Dr. Robert C. Casad, Jr., a Kansas native who has worked in the biofuels industry in Denmark for the past 16 years, has teamed up with Mattie Giefer and Mark Molitor to establish a commercial biomethane plant in Kingman County. Casad has presented to the County Commission, and the County Counselor has confirmed, that Kingman County farmers can sign a petition requesting that their land be included within a “rural improvement district.” Casad proposes that such a district should be formed with the name “Kansas Sustainable Agriculture District #001.” The district would be a public corporation governed by three directors chosen by the district’s residents. The district could submit grant applications for projects. Casad wants to submit such a grant application to finance construction of a test plant. The test plant would be 1/45 scale of the proposed commercial plant and would convert wheat straw to biomethane, which is also called “renewable natural gas (RNG).” The test plant would produce sufficient gas to support Giefer and Molitor’s compressed natural gas (CNG) filling station in Kingman. Once residents see performance of the test plant, the district can issue bonds to support construction of a commercial plant which it would own. The bonds can be issued as “industrial revenue bonds” which are only guaranteed by revenues of the plant and not by taxes, which would not be increased. Casad proposes that the district could organize collection of wheat straw during harvest by setting combine cutting heads to leave 1/3 of the straw in the ground and take 2/3 away in support vehicles that follow combines in the field. Fertilizer value of the straw would be returned to the fields after conversion of the cellulose content to biomethane. Based on values obtained on small scale in Denmark, Casad estimates that a full scale biomethane plant with 27,000 cubic meter digester volume could produce approximately 3 million gallon diesel equivalents (GDE) of methane fuel per year from 44,000 tons of chopped wheat straw. Casad estimates that the plant would bring 6 new full-time jobs and produce net revenues for the district after payment of operating costs and service of bond debt on the order of 6 million USD/year. The district could use its revenues to pay farmers for their straw and/or to remove troublesome “weed trees.” Casad will hold a public information meeting concerning the information of the district at the Kingman County Expo Center on Tuesday, December 14, 2021, at 7pm. Refreshments will be served.

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Leslie D Schrag
Leslie D. Schrag
Director,
Kingman County Economic Development