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Hog manure makes renewable energy

Photos by Mindy Ward pig farm
MAKING METHANE: Hogs in this Smithfield Foods facility in northern Missouri are producing manure that will be collected and converted to energy.
Smithfield Foods closes in on natural gas installation at hog farms.

Smithfield Foods and Roeslein Alternative Energy marked their 10 years of partnership by completing installation of renewable natural gas technology on nearly all Smithfield company-owned farms in Missouri.

Monarch Bioenergy, a joint venture between Smithfield Foods Inc. and Roeslein Alternative Energy, finished installing manure-to-energy technology on almost all of Smithfield’s northern Missouri hog-finishing farms.

The new technology captures methane emissions and converts them into carbon-negative renewable natural gas to power homes, vehicles and businesses.

Kraig Westerbeek

RENEWABLE CHAMPION: Kraig Westerbeek, Smithfield Renewables, stands in front of a methane digester on one of the company’s hog farms in northern Missouri. It is one of multiple locations that have been working to create natural gas from hog manure for 10 years.

Kraig Westerbeek, vice president of Smithfield Renewables, which is part of Smithfield Foods, says the company is close to “fulfilling our commitment to implement this transformative, cutting-edge technology on the vast majority of our finishing farms in multiple states.

“Our Monarch Bioenergy manure-to-energy projects are making a significant environmental impact and remove 25 times more emissions from the atmosphere than are emitted during the clean energy’s end use. Because of this, they are key projects in our Smithfield Renewables portfolio of innovative renewable energy and carbon reduction efforts across our operations.”

7-year power project

Construction of the approximately $150 million project officially began in 2014, three years after Roeslein Alternative Energy and Smithfield first had the idea to embark on the joint venture. The proprietary processes that emerged from the project create carbon-negative renewable natural gas at a rate of about 800,000 dekatherms annually.

In addition to generating renewable energy, the partnership has planted hundreds of acres of prairie grass, providing ecological services and wildlife habitat for monarch butterflies across the state. The companies also are exploring harvesting prairie plants to create biomass for renewable natural gas production.

methane production system

COMPLICATED PROCESS: It takes an on-farm processing facility to help transform gas from manure into usable renewable natural gas. Smithfield Renewables has these types of mini-plants on some of its swine farms.

“With perseverance and dedication to our vision, we navigated the pathways for swine manure with the California Air Resources Board and the EPA to receive the lowest CI [carbon intensity] scores in the swine industry,” Roeslein Alternative Energy CEO Rudi Roeslein says. “We are leading the way to improve the industry’s environmental footprint and diversify its income stream. This is a blueprint on how to turn challenges into opportunities.”

Making a difference across U.S.

Collectively and independently, the companies have embarked on additional manure-to-energy projects across the country in Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

The Monarch Bioenergy joint venture supports the companies’ respective sustainability goals, including Roeslein Alternative Energy’s goal to restore 30 million acres of land to native prairie plants strategically located around waterways, streams, rivers and highly erodible lands, and Smithfield’s industry-leading goals to become carbon negative in U.S. company-owned operations and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% across its entire U.S. value chain by 2030.

More information on Smithfield’s signature Smithfield Renewables program is available here.

Source: Roeslein Alternative Energy, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
TAGS: Livestock
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