GT World Watch: Poultry Litter-Powered Electricity
It’s time once again for GT World Watch - our look at the green news that is a bit out there and may have been missed by your local news reports. Today, turkey droppings and how they can be used to make electricity.
The grey, sandy mix of turkey droppings and other bits and pieces flowing through Greg Langmo’s fingers back onto the floor of his barn isn’t just funky dirt, it’s fuel. With 16,000 hens gobbling around him, Langmo is standing on a 38-centimetre layer of turkey litter - some 750 tonnes of the stuff - that represents a new source of energy. It will help fuel a US$200 million power plant due to begin full-scale production next month. The 55-megawatt Fibrominn LLC plant will be the first poultry litter-fired power plant in the United States, tapping a novel source of renewable energy to produce enough power for 50,000 homes. Its developers are planning similar plants in other major poultry states. Poultry litter - a combination of droppings, wood chips, seed hulls, shed feathers and spilled feed - has long been spread on fields as a fertilizer. That’s cheap and effective, but it can cause nitrates and phosphates to build up in soil, groundwater and runoff. So poultry producers across the country have been looking for another way to get rid of it.
According to the piece, poultry litter works as a fuel because it’s relatively dry, so it’s easy to burn compared with cow and hog manure, which are too wet and smell far worse. Three tonnes of poultry litter have about as much energy as a tonne of coal. The ash can be sold as a phosphate-rich fertilizer. And because it’s biomass, it doesn’t contribute to climate change the way fossil fuels do because it burns cleaner.
Who knew? But an alternate view can be found here.