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Capturing renewable natural gas for the pork industry

A Missouri project, believed to be the largest and most comprehensive livestock manure-to-energy of its type in the world, is currently under way. The project efficiently treats waste from approximately 2 million hogs. The farms are being covered by Industrial & Environmental Concepts, a designer and installer of cover systems for wastewater lagoons and tanks. Roeslein Alternative Energy of St. Louis selected IEC to provide the gas collection cover systems to dozens of hog lagoons in northern Missouri.

The covers effectively capture and channel valuable gases that are byproducts of the manure storage on the farms. The collected gas is sent to equipment for scrubbing, cleaning and then compressed into natural gas. The manure is effectively broken down to basic elements, making the nutrients easily available to plants in the form of fertilizer. The benefit of this system is not limited to the creation of natural gas and fertilizer; it also reduces the carbon footprint of the facilities which globally has become an important environmental topic.

In addition, the rainwater that falls upon the cover is collected, making it available for irrigation and other uses on the farms. The capture of the rainwater reduces trucking and overall labor costs of farm operations. The sustainability of this design is a breakthrough on many fronts. The return on investment and merging environmental and corporate objectives make this undertaking a landmark project.

The anaerobic design for this project was developed by Rudi Roeslein, who had seen the efficiency and reliability of similar technologies in Europe. Missouri hog producers also recognized the benefits of this system and worked closely with Roeslein by providing the farms.

An intrinsic benefit of the covered system is odor control. The smells that are typically generated by hog waste are now effectively collected and transferred to a specific outlet where the gases are scrubbed and cleaned to be used as energy.

The $120-million project is estimated to eventually produce 2.2 billion cubic feet of pipeline-quality natural gas. According to RAE, Duke Energy from North Carolina has agreed to purchase a portion of the renewable natural gas that is anticipated to be connected to the national grid system sometime in 2016.

The project contributes to energy independence and job creation for Missouri and other states.