Waste to Energy Gets Kudos from Pork Industry

Be it cow, chicken, horse or pig, waste management in the farming and agriculture community has always presented a challenge. Three major integrated manure management systems are paving the way for waste management in Western Canada by turning manure into usable by-products, such as methane, biogas and thermal energy.

“We have never looked at manure as an opportunity,” Gordon Wells of Tradex AgriSystems said at the 2005 Banff Pork Seminar. “One of the key messages that must be received is that manure has renewed value in today’s marketplace.” Increasing urban pressure on water and land, and dramatically higher energy costs have created a real challenge for livestock producers, but those same conditions have created a renewed interest in this new technology, said Wells. Bio-Terre Systems of Manitoba is using a low-temperature anaerobic digestion technology to offer waste management solutions to its customers. Their system is appropriate for both small and large livestock operations because it doesn’t require as much in capital costs, and is easier to operate than conventional digesters used at some of the larger livestock businesses. (Information on Bio-Terre is courtesy of the Stategis business directory.) Home Farms Technologies of Manitoba offers gasification technology of “barn slurry”, which separates the liquids from the solids in manure and then oxidizes the resulting biomass to create biogas that fires a steam generator. Clear-Green Environmental of Saskatchewan offers its customers a variety of ways to get from biomass to biogas. What the company concentrates on is the best technology fit for its customer to produce a useable fuel from the manure, and then Clear-Green will find the appropriate company to install the technology. While each business has developed different technologies and business models for waste to energy projects, all three have a common goal to process potential waste into commercially usable by-products, Wells said. “What is clear is that these three have persevered through incredible odds, lack of political support and economic challenges to lay the groundwork for real progress,” he said. “The cost of energy, the increasing public pressure for real solutions to environmental issues, and significantly larger-scale livestock operations and processing facilities put integrated solutions in a new light.” There are certainly issues to be dealt with and business models developed before those units become commonplace, according to Wells. For example, setting up an integrated processing unit, with long-term payback requirements obviously requires that the manure source stays in business. “Innovation will drive these opportunities and successful innovation requires a well-developed capital market that allows people to invest in these opportunities,” said Wells. “Integrated manure management systems are just now beginning to attract capital, but at least we are moving in the right direction.
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