Hog manure into natural gas

Smells like innovation

As part of the never-ending quest to produce renewable energy and reduce waste, one Missouri group is thinking outside the box, or maybe the more accurate way to put it is they’re thinking outside the pen.

Their plan? Turning hog manure into usable natural gas that can go directly from the farm into the pipeline.

According to the AP story published November 15, “The joint project, involving Roeslein Alternative Energy and Smithfield Food Hogs Production, will first convert manure from hogs on nine farms into renewable natural gas, with a goal of selling it as soon as 2016. The second phase would add native prairie grasses planted on erodible or marginal farm land to the manure to increase the biomass.”

This project is already well under way, and RAE founder Rudi Roeslein said he is not accepting government funding for the project, despite the hefty price tag, because he does not want to be dependent on bureaucracy as the project moves forward.

Per the AP story, “The first phase, with an estimated price tag of $120 million, began in 2013, when RAE and Smithfield agreed to place impermeable covers over 88 manure lagoons. That turns the lagoons into anaerobic digesters, which decompose the manure and force biogas to the top. Special machines will then collect and clean the biogas, leaving more than 98 percent methane with nearly the same chemical composition as natural gas, which will be sent into the national natural gas pipeline.”

Next time you drive by an odorous farm or ranch, just think, “While smelly at the moment, there will come a time when that stuff is processed and transported to my house via pipeline!” Will wonders never cease?

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