Cattle Network reports that a Kansas man is testing small generators to harvest the energy in cow manure at feedlots into electricity. Gene Pflughoft, economic development director for Grant County in southwest Kansas, is developing a pilot project.
The demonstration plant set to start next year is backed by Adaptive ARC and Emerald Energy. Adaptive ARC makes the gasifier that consumes the manure with an electric arc. The resulting gas is then used to generate electricity.
The manufacturer claims the gasifier is cleaner burning than incinerators. The units, which are small enough to be moved on trucks, could be placed at each feedlot and eliminate transportation costs. And the manure could be kept dry under a roof.
The generating plants would be small by utility standards in Pflughoft’s plans, but they could produce enough to power 3,500 homes.
“Our goal is to put one in every feedlot and hook it up to the grid,” said Pflughoft.
As the article states, it’s not news that ranchers have been using cow manure in various ways for energy – whether by burning “meadow muffins” in fires or by dairy farmers in the 1970s using “manure digesters that produced methane to run electric generators.”
Of course, it’s not as simple as tossing a log on a burning ember. Moisture content is key. And burning manure certainly isn’t a clean renewable fuel since it releases carbon dioxide, the article notes.
But fluctuations in fuel costs in the future might make this an attractive addition to cattle operations.
Full Article: Cattle Network, Project Seeks to Turn Manure Into Electricity