Manure smells like shit

The Pierce College Manure team is the only community college team in the country that was selected to compete in the National Sustainable Design Expo on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on April 20. The team is in Washington, D.C., having left Friday to return on Monday. The competition was from Sunday through Tuesday, after which the team will do some sightseeing. The team was assembled in the fall of 2006, and the members include Nicole Farzaneh, Jeff Ferree, Justin Kerpjuweit, Dan Mehta, Leslie Musser, Kevin Owen and Marian Ulery. A proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency was assigned for a student project to be done regarding the environment. The team would develop a method to convert green and animal waste to a useful agricultural product with a possible alternative fuel use. According to environmental science professor Craig Meyer, who is one of the leaders of the team, a number of teams including Princeton University and U.C. Berkeley were chosen to get a Phase One grant of $10,000 from the EPA’s annual P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) Award Competition. This would also help pay for the trip to Washington, D.C. “It was a pretty lengthy piece of work,” Meyer said, regarding the proposal. Meyer also worked with Dave Hare, president of Ecologics in Moorpark, a company that has a contract from the city to collect municipal green waste. Hare is now running for state assembly. At Ecologics, there is a yard where the waste is turned into mulch and is then made into good use. “We have animal manure problems here, as they do on all farms,” Meyer stated. Meyer and the manure team are trying to figure out how to turn the green and animal waste into an asset by mixing the manure and the green waste together, producing a soil that should provide substantial nutrient levels. Manure contains a lot of phosphorous and nitrates that can be combusted, because it has the energy content of a low-grade coal. At first, Meyer thought the team wouldn’t get anything. “We are up against a lot of big guns,” Meyer said, referring to the four-year colleges they competed with. “The end result for my purpose is education. No matter what happens, the students will have learned from this and have had a good experience. You can’t lose either way.” Jeff Ferree, mechanical engineering major, already has his associate degree from Pierce and has been a part of the team for about a year now. “As a team, we decided to do something with the green waste and the animal waste that is being accumulated,” he said. By combining the elements, the team can put them together and create a product that can be used as an energy product. Ferree went to Ecologics in Moorpark, where materials from green cans are separated and put into a grinder. “It was a learning experience for me as well,” Ferree stated. “We have to look at the way we use our resources,” said Dan Mehta, 21, an environmental science major, who feels it is very important to find other alternatives. “We are having so many troubles with oil and the uses of oil and natural gases. Everything is running out.” There is very little landfill space left. “In about 20 years, our landfills will be to their full capacity and a big part of the waste is green waste and manure,” Mehta said. At the expo, judges will determine who will get full funding for Phase Two that would give up to $75, 000 in funding to have their designs moved to the marketplace or implement them in the field. Regarding the competition, Mehta stated, “I don’t really know what to expect, I’m just hoping for a really good experience. Let’s take some steps, let’s do something, let’s do some work.”


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