Bion Outlines Differences between its Patented Comprehensive Livestock Environmental Treatment Technology and Anaerobic Digesters
June 23, 2008. New York, New York.
Bion Environmental Technologies, Inc. (OTC BB: BNET) today outlined the capabilities and performance of its comprehensive livestock environmental treatment technology compared to anaerobic digesters.
Anaerobic or methane digestion (AD) has been used to produce energy from livestock waste since the late 1800’s. While its efficiency has improved over the years, it is still based on a biological process that produces biogas (which generally contains around 60% methane). Bion’s patented and proven nutrient management technology has been developed over the last 20 years to provide comprehensive environmental treatment of the livestock waste stream. Bion’s Environmental Management System simultaneously (with scale) recovers substantially more renewable energy than AD.
There has been a great deal of recent publicity surrounding anaerobic digesters: promoting their ability to recover energy from livestock waste as well as provide two primary environmental benefits: reduced greenhouse gas emissions and odors. For instance,
- A January 2008 press release stated that Oregon’s 320 dairy farms could become power generators through the Dairy Power Initiative from Energy Trust of Oregon. Dairy farms that install anaerobic digesters can receive cash incentives to turn manure into biogas, and ‘generate climate-safe electricity.’
- According to AgStar, a federal program that promotes the conversion of manure to energy (and the AD process), there are more than 100 anaerobic digesters operating in the United States today, with another 80 on the drawing boards.
- Dean Foods Company, the largest processor and distributor of milk and other dairy products in the U.S., announced in May that it has begun development of an anaerobic digester on the Big Sky Dairy farm near Gooding, Idaho. Dean Foods has partnered with AgPower Partners ‘to bring this important and sustainable dairy industry solution to the market.’
James Morris, PhD, Bion’s Chief Technology Officer, stated, “Bion agrees that AD does produce renewable energy, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and odors. However, consumers, the industry and other stakeholders should be aware of AD’s limitations: the technology is not capable of providing a comprehensive solution to the environmental impacts of concentrated livestock waste. They should also consider the level of grants and subsidies being provided for AD installations compared to their relatively limited environmental benefits.”
In the Proposed Rules for CAFO’s, published in the Federal Register in June 2006, the U.S. EPA states, “EPA further notes that [anaerobic] digesters do not reduce the total nutrients in animal wastes…Other data show that changes in pollutant composition, particularly the soluble forms of nitrogen, could result in increased discharges of pollutants following land application of digested manure, specifically ammonia releases and other emissions.”
Dr. Morris added, “The dairy and livestock industries are under increasing pressure from their customers and the public in general for ‘Green’ products and to adopt environmentally-responsible production practices. Some of our state and federal agencies are also making positive steps toward responding to these appeals but are doing so by embracing the limited benefits of AD while over-looking the many problems associated with livestock waste that AD does not address.
The commonality between AD (as typically applied) and Bion’s Environmental Management System is that they both reduce odor and greenhouse gas emissions while producing renewable energy. However it is the differences that are of the most importance. Only Bion provides a comprehensive multi-media treatment technology that substantially reduces the more serious environmental impacts from livestock waste, including nutrient discharges, ammonia and other air emissions which AD does not address. In the case of nutrients, the increased nutrient mobility resulting from AD can potentially increase negative environmental impacts, unless significant steps are taken to prevent them.”
Bion’s technology was developed to focus on the reduction of environmental impacts from livestock waste first, with renewable energy production an important but secondary benefit of its overall system. Bion’s process reduces nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) in the waste stream effluent between 70 and 95%+, depending on the level of treatment desired. Bion’s technology also reduces ammonia emissions greater than 90% and provides substantially greater reductions than AD for hydrogen sulfide, greenhouse gases, VOC’s, and other emissions including odors. Bion’s renewable energy approach produces substantially more energy than AD and that energy is in a transportable form and not required to be used or converted to electricity on-site.
The AD process is focused on energy production. It provides essentially no reductions in nitrogen and phosphorus in the effluent and actually increases nutrient solubility, even when compared to land application of untreated manure. The presence of nutrients in dissolved form increases the potential for nutrient runoff after the effluent from the AD process is applied to the land. Along these same lines, AD increases the levels of dissolved ammonia in the waste stream, which produces an increased potential for ammonia emissions that have been shown, in sufficient concentrations, to pose significant potential health risks, as well as contribute to nutrient loading through downwind redeposition of nitrogen. AD does provide reductions of greenhouse gases, hydrogen sulfide, VOCs and odors, but these benefits are a small fraction compared to the control provided by Bion’s technology.
From a renewable energy perspective, AD may provide between 25,000 and 30,000 net BTU per dairy cow per day, depending on process design and operation. In most instances, the gas produced by the AD system is combusted on-site in a turbine or internal combustion engine to produce electricity. In most cases, a significant portion of the energy contained in the waste stream is lost in the conversion to electricity. The economics of AD are such that substantial public assistance in the form of grants and subsidies is normally utilized in order to attract investment and implementation.
Bion’s comprehensive environmental management system utilizes a combination of mechanical and patented biological processes to produce a cellulose-based solid fuel that reclaims approximately 70,000 net BTU per dairy cow per day – or about 25.5 MMBTU per year (one MMBTU contains approximately the same amount of energy as one MCF of natural gas). This fuel may then be utilized to provide thermal energy to a steam boiler, replacing the use of natural gas. However, Bion anticipates near-term technology developments in biomass-to-liquids conversion processes that will enable Bion to produce even greater value through conversion of the recovered cellulosic biomass to transportation fuels.
For a detailed comparison of Bion’s technology and AD, please visit the company’s website at www.biontech.com/technology/docs/Bion vs AD.080613.pdf .
With adequate subsidy, AD provides a biomass to energy solution only in locations where there is sufficient local acreage to spread nutrients and where ammonia and other atmospheric emissions are not a concern. Bion may incorporate AD processes in its own technology platforms to produce energy, but only as part of an overall solution based on Bion’s comprehensive environmental management system. However, because AD by itself can only increase the potential for negative nutrient impacts and provides relatively limited environmental benefits across other media, the technology does not support permitting new high-density operations, nor does it represent a solution to existing farms that need to reduce excess nutrients or air emissions. Only Bion has a proven comprehensive management system that can.
In conclusion, Mark Smith, Bion’s president, added “The cost of the impact of livestock waste on our environment is just beginning to be understood. The situation that Pennsylvania (and many of its municipalities) finds itself in, with regards to the Chesapeake Bay nutrient guidelines, is a first step in highlighting and quantifying that cost. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection recently approved 140 nutrient trading credits per cow per year (allocating half of the annual 280 pounds of on-farm nitrogen reductions) at Bion’s proposed Lancaster County installation. Greater than 40% of these credits are generated based on the reduction of ammonia emissions. Pursuant to Pennsylvania’s unique program, these nutrient reduction credits, which originate from non-point source agricultural operations, will be available to point source users, including municipal waste water treatment plants, at $8 to $10 per credit per year from Bion’s initial installation. This cost is significantly less than the alternative of expensive treatment plant upgrades, many of which are in excess of $30 per pound per year.
Even considering the substantial savings that the region’s municipalities can achieve by purchasing nutrient credits on a long term basis (as compared to costly treatment plant capital upgrades), ratepayers will still be subsidizing the treatment of nutrients from livestock waste in excess of $1,000 per cow per year. The bottom line is that Pennsylvania’s nutrient credit trading program monetizes the environmental impact of livestock pollution for the first time. Although the specific financial impact will vary to some degree in other regions and states, it will nonetheless be very substantial. While nutrient credits will provide much needed local relief, the key is that livestock environmental impacts will no longer be discussed solely in local terms, such as problems with odor and public health issues – but also as related to the specific financial costs that will be borne by taxpayers nationwide through federal and state contributions to clean water and air. This is a national problem that anaerobic digesters cannot address.”
About Bion: Bion's patented technology platform largely mitigates the environmental impacts of livestock facilities, such as dairies and cattle feedlots. The platform removes up to 95% of the nutrients in the wastewater effluent and reduces ammonia emissions by greater than 90%. Bion has been providing solutions to the livestock industry since 1990.
By virtually eliminating the environmental impact of livestock waste, Bion's technology creates the opportunity to develop sustainable integrated agriculture operations, comprised of large scale livestock operations balanced with highly-efficient biofuel production, in locations that maximize market opportunities. These state-of-the-art facilities incorporate onsite production and use of co-products - renewable energy produced from the livestock wastes and the distiller grains from the ethanol process - and produce significant advantages in environmental, energy and economic efficiency. For more information, see Bion's website: www.biontech.com.
This material includes forward-looking statements based on management's current reasonable business expectations. In this document, the word 'projects', 'will', 'believes' and similar expressions identify certain forward-looking statements. These statements are made in reliance on the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, Section 27A of the Securities act of 1933, as amended. There are numerous risks and uncertainties that could result in actual results differing materially from expected outcomes. Bion undertakes no obligation to update forward looking statements.
|Mark A. Smith
Vice President-Capital Markets/IR