Monday, August 10, 2015

Turning Poo into Power

I wasn't sure if I should write this post or not, given that you might think I have a fixation on ... um ... poop, but I just couldn't pass it up.

You may recall that back in May, I wrote about attempts to use human urine as fertilizer. After all, human solid waste (the politically correct term is "night soil") has been used for this purpose for a long time. Well, it seems that there are endless horizons of possibilities for the re-purposing of animal wastes, as suggested by this interesting article which describes efforts to generate power from cow manure. The following chart provides a simple illustration of the concept, and is useful for those of you born in urban areas who may not be familiar with which end of the cow the manure comes out of.

The article discusses a dairy farm in Plymouth, Indiana, which uses biogas derived from cow manure to generate electricity to run its operation ... and not only that, but it is able to sell a large amount of electricity back to the local electric company. Looking at this on a larger scale, the article notes that there are about 8,000 dairy and hog farms in the United States large enough to make a biogas recovery system viable. According to the Environmental Protection Agency*, those farms could conceivably generate enough electric power to run more than a million homes, and reduce toxic emissions into the environment by the equivalent of taking nearly four million cars off the road. Not only that, but the gas recovery facility cuts down on the staggering smell of accumulated manure, helps manage unpleasant runoff from the farms, and helps to create better fertilizer from the processed waste.

I don't know about you, Dear Readers, but I think this is a marvelous discovery. Disposal of the vast amounts of animal waste generated by industrial-scale farming is a serious problem, as is the issue of managing the stench and the pollution of waterways from the waste. Wouldn't it be great if we could make use of all that manure in a way that is environmentally sound, economically beneficial, and socially conscious? You can read more about the potential of biogas recovery from manure here and here.

And need I point out the advantages of improved manure management and stench reduction during an election season?

Have a good day. And look forward to the day when all that BS might actually be useful.

More thoughts tomorrow.


* At least, until the GOP manages to kill it. Because who needs job-killing stuff like clean air and water, anyhow?


eViL pOp TaRt said...

I think it's a great idea! Especially when you note the stench of a pig farm!

Linda Kay said...

Sounds like a wonderful idea, but don't they have to figure out how to control the methane gas that comes before the poo?

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer said...

Now that's going green that I like

Mike said...

"What a bunch of night soil!" doesn't have quite the same impact.

allenwoodhaven said...

Very interesting. I wonder how many resources will be used to stop this. There is big money behind the current way of doing things...

Insane Penguin said...

Progress is never easily accepted even though it pays off in the long run. Making power out of poo can be that!