Researchers converting contaminated alfalfa to biomass fuel

August 5, 2017 |

In Idaho, researchers at the Idaho National Laboratory are taking alfalfa contaminated with inorganic bromide and figuring out what farmers can do with the otherwise useless bales, like biomass fuel. The alfalfa was contaminated from methyl bromide, a highly toxic pesticide after a potato pest issue led to its spraying on fields, but that meant the alfalfa can’t be fed to cattle as it was causing them to have lesions, stillbirths and other health issues. Researchers are hoping to help farmers with bales and tons of alfalfa that can’t be used by converting it into biomass fuel that local potato processing companies can use for daily operations in their coal-fired plants.

However, locals wanted to make sure it was safe to burn since they wondered if it was hurting cows, what would it do to people when burned. Researchers burned alfalfa at their facility and monitored the air to ensure bromide wasn’t being released. The results showed bromide in the ash but not in the air making it a good candidate for biomass fuel instead of destined for a landfill.

 

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