Monday, April 04, 2016


"Turning poop into power, not pollution" PBS NewsHour 3/28/2016

COMMENT:  For those who have septic tanks because they do not have a connection to a sewer system, know about 'digesters' because it's an additive you have to add to keep septic tanks from becoming topped-off in a short time.  I remember my dad doing that for our rural Pennsylvania childhood home of the '50s.


SUMMARY:  Move over solar and wind power, there's another renewable energy source: poop.  Thanks to rapidly advancing “digester” technologies, it's possible to extract and refine natural gas from the methane in human and animal waste, generating power rather than polluting greenhouse gases.  Special correspondent Dan Boyce of Inside Energy and Rocky Mountain PBS reports.

DAN BOYCE (NewsHour):  Jon Slutsky has been milking cows since the early 1980s, his professional life rising and falling with what his livestock excrete, and not just from their udders.

JON SLUTSKY, Co-Owner, La Luna Dairy:  It's like a buffet for the manure connoisseur.

DAN BOYCE:  Manure, the dirty dark side of working with these adorable Holsteins, is the enormous logistical challenge of dealing with waste.  Slutsky considers himself an environmentally conscious guy, so he worries about all the methane produced as that manure breaks down.

JON SLUTSKY:  Then the whole methane thing and greenhouse gases, all of that is more important to many in our industry.

DAN BOYCE:  If only he lived about 50 miles southeast.  This is Heartland Biogas, a new facility bring in truckload after truckload of manure from nearby dairies.  All of the buildings and pools here add up to what's called a digester.

BOB YOST, A1 Organics:  You can think of the digester the same as your own guts, if you can.

DAN BOYCE:  So, this is where all the cow poop goes?

BOB YOST:  This is — the cow poop ends up right here.

DAN BOYCE:  Bob Yost is showing me around Heartland.  What's brought in gets liquefied, cooked up and mixed together, speeding up the production of methane.  And, here, they actually want methane.  With a little more refining, that methane becomes chemically identical to the natural gas drilled from underground.

The gas produced here goes straight into a pipeline on site, just like any other natural gas.

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