Egg Farm Turns Waste into Power

CALIFORNIA, US - Olivera Egg Ranch in French Camp will construct an anaerobic manure digester that will create methane gas, which will be used in a 1.4-megawatt fuel cell to generate electricity.
calendar icon 1 September 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

An egg farm just south of Stockton is planning to use methane gas from more than one million pounds of poultry waste a week to help power its operations, reducing both its electricity bills and waste disposal costs, according to LA Times.

The Olivera Egg Ranch in French Camp will install a 1.4-megawatt fuel cell that will produce enough power to run the facility. The system may also help ease relations with neighbours who have sued over noxious ammonia emissions from Olivera's manure lagoons, which the farm currently uses for waste disposal.

G3 Power Systems Inc., a power systems company based in Novato, is designing and installing the technology at Olivera using a fuel cell from manufacturer, FuelCell Energy Inc. of Danbury, Connecticut.

"It won't stink anymore," G3 Power Systems President Ray Brewer said. "It'll all burn."

Construction on an anaerobic manure digester should begin in October, Mr Brewer said. In a 22-day process, waste flowing through the digester will emerge, heat-sterilised, as peat moss-like solids suitable for animal bedding and liquids to be used as soil amendments on neighbouring farm fields.

The digester will also create methane gas as a by-product, which will be used by the fuel cell to generate electricity with minimal emissions of nitrogen oxides or sulfur oxides. The cell, which is set to be delivered in early 2011, will produce enough heat from the energy conversion process to be directed to the anaerobic digester.

"The exhaust gas from the fuel cell is pretty much water vapour," Mr Brewer explained.

But some were sceptical about the intentions of egg farm managing partner Edward Olivera. One critic is Peter Brandt, a senior attorney with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which joined the farm's neighbours in their lawsuit two years ago.

The egg ranch produces about 14 million cartons of chicken, duck, quail and goose eggs each year for stores and restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area.

"The bottom line for us is, if [Olivera] wants to clean up his facility, he should tell his lawyers to stop fighting his neighbours and work together with them on a real clean-up plan," Mr Brandt told LA Times. "I wouldn't be willing to move in downwind of this facility, with or without this digester, given his track record."

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