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They're Turning Waste Into On-Farm Energy
A Nebraska innovator has brought together several different manufacturers of farm furnaces, automatic stokers and cubers to put together what may be the first viable on-farm energy package that makes use of "waste" crop residues.
Bill Fritz, of Columbus, who sold his interest in Middle State Manufacturing last summer a firm he founded in 1963 has already sold several of his new on-farm energy packages which produce "cube fuel" from combinations of cornstalks, wheat straw, waste cardboard and other material which can then be handled by automated stokers. There are a variety of furnaces available, some of which Fritz designed himself.
"Other inventors have come up with systems for on-farm use but, so far as we know, we're the first company to offer a complete package for using crop residues on the farm," Fritz told FARM SHOW.
One of the first systems is owned by two neighboring farmers, Gerald Hopwood and Delmer Rathje, of Shelby, Neb. They hope to fill not only their own energy needs but to sell the cube fuel they're producing to owners of wood-burning stoves. Both men have sons who want to stay on the farm and they hope their energy business will provide enough work to keep them employed.
Here's what the Hopwood-Rathje energy system, as purchased from Fritz, consists of:
The first machine is a standard hammer mill grinder-mixer which chops waste corn, milo and bean residue, as well as wood chips and cardboard, into uniform size particles. Once the material is chopped up, it's moved to a mixer wagon to be blended, passed over a magnet to remove stray metal and then fed into the cuber. Fritz sells the Lundell Cuber (featured in FARM SHOWS Vol. 6, No. 6 issue) which makes 1 3/4 in. dia. "cubes" 4 to 6 in. in length. The cubes are then loaded into trucks or wagons ready for use.
Hopwood has installed one of Fritz's own biomass burners to dry grain. He spends about $28,000 a year to dry grain off his 1,500 acres and hopes to cut that cost by two-thirds this fall. He also plans to install a 500 to 1,000 gal. cube-fed hot water system this fall to heat his home and shop. All furnaces and crop dryers sold by Fritz are fed by automatic stokers, including the popular outside Bryan Furnace which has been featured several times in FARM SHOW.
"The advantage of using crop residues is that you can bale them up, or leave them in the field until you've got time to convert them to a useable cube fuel," says Fritz. "One acre of cornstalks produces as much heat as 364 gal. of propane."
In addition to on-farm use, Fritz, Hopwood and Rathje are going ahead with plans to market their cubes in 50-lb. boxes to consumers. The cubes will sell for around $4.00 a box. They're busy readying packaging for next winter's heating season.
The cost of a total crop residue-burning system as purchased by Rathje and Hopwood not including a grinder-mixer and tractors to power it is in the range of $75,000, depending on the equipment selected. "That's less than the cost of a new combine and it'll pay for itself in a couple short seasons," says Fritz.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bill Fritz, Multiple Energy Corporation, 2070 E. 11th Ave., Box 1304, Columbus, Neb. 68601 (ph 402 564-9437).

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1983 - Volume #7, Issue #4