Ohio State University scientist Harold Keener, an expert on the engineering of composting systems, biomass energy systems and plant-based bioproducts, was named winner of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center's 2011 Distinguished Senior Faculty Research Award. The award honors outstanding achievements by an OARDC faculty member at the rank of professor.
Part of the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Keener is currently leading two bioproduct-related projects with industry: optimizing the processing of natural fibers for manufacturing new biocomposites; and refining a process to convert swine manure into a substitute component in asphalt.
"His collaboration with stakeholders has greatly expanded the impact of his research beyond the lab," says Steve Slack, OARDC director.
Keener "is sought after as a collaborator on interdisciplinary research projects for both his expertise in systems analysis and his ability to provide creative yet pragmatic approaches and solutions that strengthen the project," one of his nominators wrote.
In 1980, Keener established OARDC's Biomass Combustion Laboratory to study the burning of corn cobs, shelled corn and high-sulfur coal in a small-scale fluidized bed combustion system, work that led to the development of a new commercial fluidized bed burner for heating greenhouses.
In 1997, he led the design and development of OARDC's Composting Research Laboratory, a facility considered one of the best in the world for pilot-scale composting research and that in 2009 was renamed the Bioproducts and Bioenergy Research Laboratory to reflect the widened scope of its work.
Keener has developed new processes for composting dead livestock -- methods that have been incorporated into the standards manual of the Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service and that serve as the basis for Ohio's acclaimed certification course on dead-animal composting.
Additionally, he has provided technical expertise on the design of innovative manure handling systems for swine and poultry producers, including Daylay Egg Farm's composting facility for unamended poultry manure and 4-M Farm's high-rise hog building, a unique system for handling swine manure as a solid to enhance its composting.