let's talk farm animals

Google and Apple show an interest in pig manure


In my last blog I wrote about using farm and processing waste as an alternative, renewable fuel. Well this week bio-fuels got a big boost from an unlikely source.

According to U.S. news reports, two leading tech companies are putting their money on manure. Google and Apple which are interested in off-setting their carbon footprint and getting state energy tax credits are turning their attention to North Carolina’s pig farms.

It first started with Google’s partnership with Duke University to demonstrate the potential of manure-to-methane renewable biogas as a viable technology. Field trials are on-going with a local pig farm. Apple, with the construction of its new data centre in Maiden, North Carolina, is interested in qualifying for the state’s renewable energy credits.

Turning poop into power

North Carolina sees hog waste as a benefit rather than a cost.

In 1995 a hog waste lagoon broke open, inundating nearby fields and creating a massive fish kill in a nearby river. Soon after, state hog producers and government began looking into solutions to deal with the risks that come with their overly successful hog industry. Since then the state government has been even further motivated with its decision to reduce its dependence on coal-fired power plants. There is now strong interest in North Carolina to examine the potential of hog manure as an uptapped energy resource.

In addition to Duke University’s project, the University of North Carolina has been researching manure-to-energy as a way to eliminate odors and waste disposal issues at hog farms. The North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has also been investigating the potential for hog waste to produce biodiesel and other oils, including a tarlike asphalt substitute that could be used for road surfaces.

Economics will still be the most important factor in commercializing this technology. But with cheer leaders like Google and Apple it might come sooner than I predicted.

Until the Next Blog


Posted by FFC on April 16th, 2012 :: Filed under animal by-products,Environment,Manure,Pigs
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