Hog and pig poop is disgusting and there are tens of millions of these curly tailed animals in farms across the U.S. Pig manure has a high nitrogen content which makes for poor fertilizer, so the manure if commonly pumped into giant open pools where it releases tons of methane into the air. Yuck.
Thankfully, farmer Loyd Bryant, from Yadkinville North Carolina, has come up with a solution. Mr. Bryant used to be the guy who pumped the poop, now Mr. Bryant is the guy who runs a power plant.
Mr. Bryant built a power plant with off the self parts on this 154 acre farm. The power plant, that is actually more like a waste processing plant, uses bacteria to digest the poop and then the plant burns the methane to make electricity. Additionally, Mr. Bryant’s plant converts the ammonia into forms of nitrogen that can be used as a fertilizer.
The project cost $1.2 million to build with financing secured from both Google and Duke University. Duke University claims that Mr. Bryant’s system is one of the cleanest in existence, and it solves all of the environmental problems associated with animal waste (namely, methane, ammonia, and disposal of said waste.)
In the three way partnership everyone wins. Mr. Bryant saves money on electricity and gets a cleaner farming environment. The 65-kilowatt turbine generates enough electricity to power the plant system and five of Bryant’s nine hog barns. Meanwhile, Google and Duke earn carbon offset credits.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the number of waste to energy systems in the U.S. grows every year – last year 162 systems on U.S. farms were in action using poop as a renewable source of energy. Such systems are also being touted as a way to dispose of human sewage in developing areas like Africa, providing power for an ever-growing population that lacks proper infrastructure.
The EPA estimates that if 8,200 eligible dairy and hog farms nationwide used systems like Mr. Bryant’s these farms could generate enough electricity to power 980,000 homes for one year. The EPA predicts that this would create the equivalent of removing 6.7 million cars from America’s roads by reducing methane emissions and avoiding power plant carbon dioxide emissions.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison