Anaerobic Digestion Key to Animal Waste, Power Issues?

Many experts believe anaerobic digestion (AD) is a microbiological powerhouse that could be the key to unlocking the “electrifying power of manure.” It could also help solve some persistent environmental issues associated with animal agriculture production.

Alexandria, Virginia – May 19, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] AD technology holds such promise that a national summit is planned for June 2 – 4 at the Hilton North Raleigh in Raleigh, North Carolina to explore ways that it can be used within the context of animal waste management, rural economic development, and environmental improvement. Scientists, engineers, and government and industry officials will examine the opportunities for public and private sectors to work together to make the most of this technology. In the U.S., approximately 250 million dry tons of animal manure is produced yearly. Much of it is applied to farm fields, but many agricultural sites are already saturated with nutrients, making it increasingly necessary to reduce waste solids volume and to transport the manure off-site for use or disposal. One potential solution to this issue is anaerobic digester technology — small-scale power plants that can be constructed on livestock farms. By controlling the environment of bacteria in a covered tank of manure, farmers can harness the gas that is produced as the bacteria interact with the manure and other bacteria. The gas is burned to create electricity, which can then be used to power the farm, or even provide excess energy to the community. In the process, waste volume, odors and pathogens are reduced. AD also helps control the use or disposal of nitrogen that could adversely impact water quality. The dilemma for scientists, policy makers and industry professionals is how to make wider use of this technology. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Energy and the Water Environment Federation will sponsor the summit. It will provide a forum for examining the opportunities for public and private sectors to work together to facilitate digester adoption within the context of animal waste management, rural economic development, and environmental improvement. “This is an exciting time for renewable fuels,” said USDA’s Under Secretary for Rural Development Thomas Dorr. “It is a time when our nation is looking to our farmers, ranchers, and rural businesses for their knowledge and resources in order to help America become energy independent and more economically strong.” Conference co-chair, Ted Payseur said that in addition to providing a Renewable Energy source, AD technology offers tremendous opportunities for reducing air and water quality issues associated with animal agriculture production. According to Payseur, “this national summit will provide a forum to bring the industry’s best and brightest together to maximize the use of the technology for both energy production and environmental protection.”
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