New Biomass Plant Turns Turkey Poop into Power

MICHIGAN, US - A Howard City grain feed mill is now converting turkey litter into steam, electricity and fertilizer with a $3 million alternative commercially based biomass energy plant developed by a small Kentwood company, Heat Transfer International.
calendar icon 29 October 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Sietsema Farms Feeds LLC is roasting 70,000 pounds of turkey waste a day to generate 206,400 pounds of steam and 500 KWh of electricity to power a grain mill that prepares feed for the birds. The turkey waste is gathered from several West Michigan turkey facilities, reports Rapid Growth.

Using a new gasification technology, the biomass facility will generate enough equivalent electrical energy to power about 400 homes, and produce enough equivalent heat to warm about 150 homes daily during Michigan’s winter months

Dave Prouty, president and CEO of Heat Transfer International, says the innovative system offers farmers multiple benefits in addition to generating the power. The plant can help solve and manage a manure problem that’s long plagued farmers. Waste used to fertilize fields can run off into streams and rivers, causing pollution and algae problems. Now, the waste can be baked and reduced to an ash that’s still useful as a fertilizer.

"Harley Sietsema can turn off his gas and electric, get rid of manure storage problems in the winter, eliminate the liability of manure run-off into the river and get (dry) fertilizer he can use later," Mr Prouty said. "It’s closing a sustainability loop. Hopefully we can convert a liability into an asset."

The technology was developed in Michigan, thanks in part to a $2.3 million state grant and a $500,000 federal grant. HMI employs 16 now but Prouty expects to add 20 to 120 workers over the next five years, most with high-tech skills commanding good salaries.

"The future is very bright,” Mr Prouty said. "People see this as a possible solution to help Michigan get out of its current chaos."

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