Establishing On-site Effluent Treatment of Wastewater from Small-Scale Wool Processing Facilities

Award Information
Department of Agriculture
Award Year:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
22 Plains Dr., Buffalo, WY, 82834-9480
Hubzone Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Karen Hostetler
Vice President
(307) 684-5775
Business Contact:
Valerie Spanos
(307) 684-5775
Research Institution:
Sheep ranching and wool production have been a part of our country & #8223;s rural heritage for more than a hundred years, with small and mid-sized ranches serving as the backbone of our country & #8223;s sheep operations. Presently, small operators account for more total ewes than larger operations. This means that small ranches offer the best potential for growth of sheep operations in the future. The American Sheep Industry states that success depends on small operations increasing their production level of sheep and that "small operations are our most important asset for rebuilding sheep inventory."(American Sheep Industry Weekly, Feb 18, 2011). In the last decade, U.S. wool output has been cut in half, and the country has gone from utilizing about 75% of its domestic wool production 10-15 years ago to exporting 75% .The United States is in danger of losing its market infrastructure for sheep because of rapidly declining numbers. The American sheep industry is estimated to have a total economic impact on society worth approximately 4.5 billion dollars and it employs both directly and indirectly approximately 100,000 people. It is important to ensure that this significant portion of American society and culture is preserved. The mills that serve as a part of the infrastructure in the sheep industry continue to search for ways in which to reduce their costs. Regional mills located in rural areas are impacted by scarce water resources and high energy costs, which directly affect the wool scouring process. Additionally, the high contaminant loadings (high chemical oxygen demand-COD, total suspended solids-TSS, and grease content) make these facilities very susceptible to non-compliance with stricter discharge regulations. This situation creates a new opportunity for the expansion and sustainability of regional domestic mill operations as long as they can overcome environmental challenges in a sustainable way. Mountain Meadow Wool intends to open the door for these regionally located mills to take advantage of this opportunity through the proposal of a new wool processing system. This system will use water and energy more efficiently, and will address the end use of all waste created during the scouring process. MMW will accomplish this through the prototyping of aerobic treatment, composting, and constructed wetlands as final treatment processes for a wool processing system. Regional mills as well as a variety of mini-mills operating in the 20-300lb/day range will be able to use this new process to wash wool sustainably and profitably while meeting stringent U.S. environmental regulations. The underlying goal of this research is to enable these mills to improve both their profitability and their environmental sustainability, so that the small- and mid-sized ranching operations utilizing these mills were able to diversify their operations and increase their income.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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