Private firms and a university broke ground on a dairy waste-to-energy operation in Pickett, Wis.

The biogas production facility will be able to generate 1.4 megawatts of electricity using livestock waste from the Rosendale Dairy near Pickett, according to a news release. The $7 million biodigester and public education center is funded by the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Foundation. Waste-to-energy company Bioferm Energy Systems, Madison, Wis., also is a partner in the project.

The Rosendale biodigester will process about 240 tons per day of separated solids – 23 percent total solids combined with up to 58,000 gallons per day of liquid manure. Two cylindrical anaerobic digestion reactors built by Bioferm’s parent company, Viessmann Group of Allendorf, Germany, each will have a 1-million-gallon capacity. Methane generated by the digestion process will be combusted in engines on the site. The facility will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of about 1,200 homes, according to Bioferm.

The project follows collaborations between the university and Bioferm that include the first dry-fermentation anaerobic biodigester in the western hemisphere at the university campus in 2011 and the first small-scale compact (livestock waste) biodigester at a family farm northwest of the campus in 2012.

The new project will produce seven times more energy than the existing dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester.

The Rosendale dairy is the state’s largest with more than 8,000 cows.

The project will dramatically reduce the university’s original 2025 target date for carbon neutrality on campus, it said.

Other partners in the project include Soil Net, Alliant Energy and Infinity Lawn and Garden.