Updated 10/28/2011 07:54 PM
Pig waste turned into power in NC
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YADKINVILLE, N.C. – In the Tar Heel State hogs are typically known for one thing, barbecue. But now thanks to a collaboration between a farm, tech company, energy business and university, their waste is being transformed into renewable energy.
"This project produces two sort of environmental benefits, that are commodities. One is renewable energy credits and the other is carbon offsets,” said Google Carbon Offsets Team Program Manager Jolanka Nickerman.
The “Poop to Power" process is taking place at Lloyd Ray Farms, a 9,000 head hog finishing facility that produces some 40,000 gallons of waste a week.
"One of the big benefits of this project is that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions. So instead of letting all the methane go into the atmosphere, we're capturing it in and under the anaerobic digester," said Duke University Carbon Offsets Initiative's Director Tatjana Vujic.
The equivalency of 5,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is enough greenhouse gas emission that it would equal 9,000 cars taken off the road for a year. It also creates enough energy to power five farms.
"This is the opportunity to take something that's otherwise waste and allowing farmers to do what they like to do, using every bit of what's produced on the farm" Vujic added.
A $1.2 million carbon offset footed by Google in exchange for carbon emission credits.
"Basically, it's trying to give people a financial incentive to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions," Nickerman said.
Those involved say the pilot program is already a success but will truly be measured when farmers begin following in their footsteps.
"We want people to take this technology and see what they can do with it. Run with it, Try to spread it across the U.S., across North Carolina," Nickerman added.
The project is the first anaerobic-digestion-based system to qualify as an innovative animal waste management system that reduces odors, ammonia, pathogens, nutrients and other pollutants.