Valuable Products from New Litter Process

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - Pyrolysis offers potential as a way to dispose of poultry litter safely, according to D-Engineering, which claims to be offering the first system of this type in Europe.
calendar icon 28 July 2009
clock icon 4 minute read

The owner of a County Antrim-based engineering company has revealed that he is now in a position to offer Northern Ireland's poultry sector a solution to the problem of dealing with the 200,000 tonnes of litter it produces every year, one which does not require the construction of a large incinerator.

And to prove the point, Brian Duffin of D-Engineering invited a reporter from Farming Life to Canada earlier this week to see at first hand the technology which he has secured the manufacturing rights for.

"The systems we will be making have been fully proven in North America," he added.

"However, this will be a definite first for Europe. We will be manufacturing two models. One will have a daily throughput capacity of 50 tonnes per day. It is semi-mobile. The other is much smaller and will have a daily poultry litter throughput of around one tonne and can be easily moved from farm to farm."

Mr Duffin went on to explain that the licensing arrangement had been secured courtesy of D-Engineering's recently acquired shareholding in another business, Energy Flow Ireland, which will distribute the new machines.

He said: "The technology has been developed over the past twenty years by Dr Peter Fransham, who is based in Ottawa, and his team at Abri-Tech. The company specialises in the development of sustainable bioenergy systems, centred on a process called pyrolysis. This entails the use of heat to chemically decompose organic materials in an oxygen-free environment. They have already used this approach to maximise the value of the waste produced by the forestry sector and maize growers in Canada."

Peter Fransham told Farming Life that combustion is now an outdated way of dealing with organic waste materials.

He added: "Our systems produce three valuable end products. One is a bio-oil, which can be used to produce energy. Another is a char, which constitutes a nitrate-free nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium compound fertiliser. Significantly, the char is totally pathogen-free and can be easily transported to end users. The third end product is a producer gas which can be used to fire up the processing unit.

"The bottom line is that our technology works in terms of allowing Northern Ireland's poultry industry to fully comply with the requirements of the EU Nitrates' Directive."

Mr Duffin went on to point out that he is now in a position to offer the local poultry sector a way to move forward, based on a number of options.

"Individual poultry producers may be interested in purchasing a small unit for use on their own farms," he further explained.

"But in order to meet the needs of the industry as a whole there will be a requirement for poultry processers and/or outside groups to invest in between twelve and fifteen of the 50-tonne units. These will be strategically placed across Northern Ireland and the litter from specifically designed catchment areas delivered to them for processing. Significantly, each of the large units is semi-transportable.

"This means that in the event of an avian flu or some other disease outbreak, one or more can be moved into the restricted zones set up by DARD. This will allow the ongoing treatment of poultry litter. This option is not a runner if a single incinerator is built, irrespective of its location. The use of the 50-tonne units will be subject to all standard licensing requirements."

Each of the 50-tonne units will cost around £3.5 million, but based on each machine working at full capacity for 300 days per year, Mr Duffin told Farming Life that the overall payback time is in the region of three and a half years.

He concluded: "Our pyrolysis-based solution for the treatment of poultry litter will cost 30 per cent less than the planned incinerator at Glenavy," he concluded. "In my opinion it makes total financial and environmental sense!"

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