Ind. dairy opens manure-gas station for trucks

Farm Forum

FAIR OAKS, Ind. (AP) – A natural gas station fueled by cow manure has opened in northwestern Indiana, completing the first transportation corridor intended to power delivery trucks for one of the nation’s largest dairy cooperatives.

Investors in the AMP Americas station that opened March 4 along Interstate 65 near the town of Fair Oaks said the station and a second along I-65 near Sellersburg in southern Indiana will fuel 42 milk delivery trucks owned by Fair Oaks Farms. The dairy cooperative of 10 farms houses about 35,000 cows.

The trucks deliver milk to three Kroger grocery store dairies serving 560 retail stores

in eight states.

Chicago-based AMP Americas founder and CEO Nate Laurell said he hopes the venture can open at least 10 more natural gas corridors by year’s end on Interstate 65, Interstate 75 and Interstate 85.

Laurell told The Times of Munster that the goal is to have connecting corridors from Texas to the East Coast and Chicago to Orlando, Fla.

Mike McCloskey, owner of Fair Oaks Farms, said discussions on the $12 million project began four years ago. He said the project was made possible through partnerships between AMP Americas, Kroger, Indiana’s Office of Energy Development, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Clean Cities program and others.

“It shows that government and private industry can work extremely well together,” he said. “It is the most complex project that I have done as a businessman.”

The trucks are powered by gas produced by bacteria that break down manure in a closed, oxygen-free environment. The project’s representatives said the trucks reduce emissions from carbon dioxide by more than 20 percent, carbon monoxide by up to 75 percent and particular matter by up to 95 percent.

“Every company talks about sustainability or has somebody saying they’re the vice president of sustainability, but this really is sustainability in action,” said Dennis Smith, director of National Clean Cities.

Smith also announced on March 4 that AMP Americas has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to join the National Clean Fleets program, which works with companies to convert fleets to alternative fuels. Only 25 companies are in the 2-year-old program, including AT&T, Coca-Cola and FedEx, he said.

“We’re hoping people will look to this project as a leader and innovator. The key to that is getting the right people together,” Smith said.

McCloskey said four or five permanent jobs were created as a result of the project.

The compressed natural gas fueling station is just one such project creating sustainable fuels from manure at the farm. Fair Oaks Farms already is running its operations on compressed natural gas created by manure from the cows.