Ramble On

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Poultry Waste Anaerobic Digester: Yet Another Alternative to Fibrowatt

Last week we took a look at the gasification process as one alternative way to produce energy from poultry waste; this week we will take a look at a second way, called anaerobic digestion. Before I get into a review of this technology, I want to remind readers about the purpose of these posts: since we first encountered Fibrowatt in the Shenandoah Valley, the company has gone about attempting to convince us that they offer the only technology process that can deal with the quantities of poultry waste produced here – you can read about them by clicking the label Fibrowatt at the end of this post.

What we are learning is that there are alternatives, and that is another thing you will learn by clicking on the Fibrowatt label on this blog. Selection of that company based on their assertion that they have the only process, as some in Richmond would have us believe, will leave the Valley paying dearly with our quality of life, our health, and with longer term negative impacts* on the very farms that produce the litter.

A Google search on “Poultry Waster Digester” will deliver quite a few results, including academic research and plenty of case studies dating back to the 1980’s. I’ve picked an LA Times article from 2010 for this review, but before I do that, here is the Wikipedia definition of “anaerobic digestion:”

Anaerobic digestion is a series of processes in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen, used for industrial or domestic purposes to manage waste and/or to release energy. …widely used as a renewable energy source because the process produces a methane and carbon dioxide rich biogas suitable for energy production, helping to replace fossil fuels. The nutrient-rich digestate which is also produced can be used as fertilizer. (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anaerobic_digester, and the photo of the industrial plant in Germany, above, is also from there - this article will likely be the subject of a future post)

Further review of the Google results led me to a September 2010 LA Times article called “Poultry Waste to Power California Egg Farm,” where reporter Reed Fujii takes a look at a Stockton, CA farm that produces a million pounds of poultry waste a week. They have been using manure lagoons to manage all this before putting together plans for a digester – a process the neighbors have objected too, and one that doesn’t work within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The article is here: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/sep/01/business/la-fi-poultry-power-20100901

Chris Brewer, a representative of California’s G3 Power Systems, said that the digester will create methane gas as a byproduct. The methane will be used by a fuel cell to generate electricity, with minimal emissions of nitrogen oxide or sulfur oxide. Similar to the gasification process, the cell’s own byproducts are sufficient to power itself once it begins operation. The exhaust gas is pretty much water vapor, according to Brewer. This digester was scheduled for start-up in early 2011.

Tomorrow I will take a look for some additional case studies and articles on this process. I’ve also sent an email to see if I can get an update on the installation at this egg farm.

* See http://hburgnews.com/2010/04/29/fibrowatt-the-farmer-squeeze  for a summary of posts on Fibrowatt’s economic impacts to poultry farmers


Ivy-Global said...

Modern Technology Methods has Poultry Anaerobic Digester http://www.moderntechnologymethods.com

Jim said...

Thanks for the link - I'll be sure to check it out.