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Animal Poop Can Make Power

Animal Poop Can Make Power

In Maryland farm animal waste could become a source of electricity for people. A state program called the Clean Bay Power project intends to use animal poop as a fuel for creating methane which is burned to spin turbines that generate electricity. The technology is known as a biogas digester. Maryland’s program requires the new proposed biogas digester plant to be able to generate ten megawatts of electricity. The program will also reduce the amount of chicken litter and farm animal manure entering the Chesapeake Bay. Nitrogen, phosphorous and other nutrients from animal farms get washed into the regional watershed and wind up in the bay where they damage the marine ecology. Oxygen-deprived dead zones in the bay result from excessive amounts of such farm-related chemicals.

“Maryland is leading the nation’s efforts in clean energy and sustainability, and our state’s growing green jobs sector is vital to our ability to create jobs and compete globally in the new economy,” said the state’s governor. (Source: Hometownannapolis.com)

Reducing animal waste entering the bay could also save money because trying to do clean-ups once it is already there is very expensive. The old adage an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure applies in this situation to the tune of about five to ten billion dollars. That is the cost estimate for the state’s proposed program to clean waste from the bay by 2017.

A company called Fibrowatt has indicated an interest in submitting a proposal for a plant. Their design and construction cost is about $300 million. Permitting and construction would require about forty months. This company already has one such facility operating in Minnesota, but it initially showed excessive air pollution from its smokestacks. The problem apparently was fixed, and would actually help improve the design of their next plant it has been reported.

Already about $850,000 has been granted to local farmers for manure-to-power plants by the federal government.

Biogas digesters can capture and burn methane before it enters the atmosphere and methane is a strong contributor to climate change. Another potential benefit of biogas digesters removing animal waste from the environment is the reduction of animal antibiotics in natural watersheds.

Image Credit: Larry Rana

 

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99 comments

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4:18AM PDT on Jul 15, 2014

Kamia, you should see how fast my hens move around! They are about as "free ranged" as hens can be, albeit kept in a 10' tall fenced "yard" for their protection 24/7, but it's 40' x 60' and they have their coop/shed for roosting at night. Yes, they can run pretty danged fast when they want to and all it takes is tossing veggie scraps out for them and one will snatch a tomato or whatever and run off with it with the other 5 on her "tail", literally!

Animal poop has many uses. I'm "scooping" poop tomorrow to pile up around my fruit trees and berry bushes. It keeps the horses away from the plants and trees and also keeps other critters off as well, not to mention it's aged enough to be great fertilizer.

8:28AM PDT on Jul 14, 2014

Love this idea. Here the manure is spread over wide areas in pastures to fertilize the grazing areas as cattle are rotated, and/or with chicken poop from small local farmers, if they have extra I buy it for my compost piles. Wonderful stuff.

And Diane P. The reason those chickens can't walk is because of all the consumers who love over-sized chicken breast and super soft meat. It has forced breeders to create chickens that people purchase for food, but which barely can survive to 12 or 14 weeks. Heritage chickens have stringier meat, although tastier, and can mate on their own; free range and enjoy life. But many people don't want to pay the extra cost per pound that having a truly healthy chicken costs.

4:16AM PST on Mar 8, 2012

Thanks for the article.

6:49PM PDT on Oct 30, 2011

wow

5:35AM PDT on Oct 28, 2011

Those poor chickens look very unhealthy to me. Poor things can't walk far by the looks of it. Too many hormones. I don't give a damn about the chicken shit. All I care about is the poor chickens. Bastard cruel farmers.

6:48AM PDT on Oct 24, 2011

great there is no shortage of animal poop lets use it!

2:23PM PDT on Oct 23, 2011

great news

2:22PM PDT on Oct 23, 2011

wow

12:32AM PDT on Oct 22, 2011

Anyone who has had to care for or clean up after large animals has known this for decades! Manure creates heat when decomposing. It can be used as great fertilizer once "aged" just a bit, and people turn up their noses at it! I know a guy who is a commercial landscaper and he uses "human waste" and says it's even better, but he had to get a special permit to get it at the waste treatment plant in our area.

Most of us know that buried garbage at the dummps also creates methane, which can be converted into energy (specifically a burnable gas form) and it's available at any waste dump, the ones that are closed need to be vented to prevent underground explosions, so why not use what's being "vented"?

3:18AM PDT on Oct 21, 2011

Thanks for this information.

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Thanks.You might also try making a decision before you absolutely must go to the toilet.

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