Jul 24 2015

Swine Waste, Problem turned Solution?

Many complications arise when it comes to the installation of renewable energy systems. Where their installation can occur is difficult to determine and there is the necessity of a power source. That being said, what if one of North Carolina’s largest problems could become a solution to the state’s energy production? The use of swine waste as a source of power generation is currently being researched and experimented in the eastern half of the state which produces twice the waste of New York City in one year from hog farming alone.

Hog farming has long been a staple of North Carolina’s economy and isn’t leaving the state anytime soon. The waste it generates has created health hazards for residents in nearby areas and has become an environmental hazard for the surrounding lands (Elks, 2015). Waste from hogs is commonly removed from the holding stalls via a flushing system that carries the waste into a manmade reservoir where it remains until it is sprayed onto crop fields in the form of fertilizer. It creates a foul smell in the air and can pollute air quality for miles. The waste holding reservoirs are also prone to overflow during storm events and degrade surrounding water quality.

Storms Hog Farm Power Plant, in Bladenboro, NC, was a pilot project between multiple engineering firms, contractors, and North Carolina Department of Energy that began initial planning in late 2010. Storms Hog Farm begins its waste collection via a scraping system and not by traditional flushing; a process less harmful on the surrounding environment (Elks, 2015). Waste is then stored in a 1.2 million gallon reinforced, concrete drum with no exposure to oxygen (Nagle, 2015). The bacteria in the concrete drum is metabolically broken down and converted to a biogas.

Via a combustion reaction that occurs in a generator on site, biogas from waste is converted to clean renewable energy. For nearly the past year the facility has operated close to or at full capacity (600kWh) and can generate enough power to provide nearly one third of the homes in the surrounding county (Elks, 2015). Using a concrete drum as a holding reservoir free of oxygen, the pathogens and smells that once nuisanced residents in eastern North Carolina are nearly eliminated. Excess power is sold by Storm’s Hog Farm back to Duke Energy and the facility is currently expanding in an effort to double its electrical output.

Sources

Elks, Jenifer. “North Carolina’s largest Bioenergy Plant Powered by Pigs.” Sustainable Brands: Clean Tech. July 2, 2014. Web. Accessed 20 July 2015. <http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/cleantech/jennifer_elks/north_carolinas_largest_bioenergy_plant_powered_pigs >.

 

Nagle, Chris. “Swine Waste Generates Electricity in North Carolina.” Dresser-Rand Corporation: Power Engineering. November, 2014. Web. Accessed 21 July 2015. <http://www.dresser-rand.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Power-Engineering-Nov2014.pdf>

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