Smart Poultry Feed Mill Cuts Carbon Emission

ALABAMA, US - A newly expanded Aviagen poultry feed mill in Athens, Alabama, is producing 30 per cent more feed while consuming far less energy, reducing its carbon emissions by hundreds of tons, and cutting its annual utility expenses by more than $160,000.
calendar icon 21 November 2011
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The experience of the Aviagen mill offers an example of how new technology and sustainable practices can benefit both the environment and the bottom line.

Aviagen, the world’s leading poultry breeding company, completed a multi-million dollar expansion of its feed mill in June of 2010. The expansion added production capacity with new equipment and procedures that ensure the biosecurity of pelletized and crumbled feed for Aviagen’s Pedigree operation in Tennessee and to 115 Aviagen poultry farms in Alabama.

Now with a full year of operation behind it, the mill is reporting its results: Even though the facility has increased feed production by more than 30 per cent, Aviagen’s more efficient processing equipment has allowed it to reduce its electric, natural gas and diesel costs by $169,836 and cut its overall carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 615 tons.

To bring those carbon savings down to earth, a 615-ton reduction in CO2 is like pulling 126 passenger cars (or 92 pickups and SUVs) off the road for a year, according to EPA estimates.

"Our Athens mill expansion is achieving all our goals," said Richard Obermeyer, Aviagen’s director of feed production. "We grew capacity, ensured biosecurity, and cut costs. But the added benefit is that we enhanced the sustainability of our feed mill operation by reducing energy consumption across the board."

  • Electric savings. Electricity powers nearly everything at the Athens facility, which requires more than 2 million kilowatt hours (KWH) of electricity a year. After the upgrade, consumption dropped 15 per cent, cutting the mill’s overall electrical costs by $31,126. Factoring in US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that generating a KWH of electricity in Alabama produces 1.31 pounds of CO2, Aviagen’s carbon footprint on electricity use alone plummeted by 238.7 tons during the first year of operation.

  • Natural gas savings. Aviagen has reduced its natural gas consumption in large part by making innovative use of the 360-degree exhaust from a natural gas-powered steam generator. By redirecting the exhaust from the steam generator, Aviagen avoids having to pay for heat needed drive up temperatures during the conditioning stage, an essential phase in feed production that kills pathogens and creates starch bonds needed to produce a sturdy pellet. As a result, the mill uses 12 per cent less steam and has cut its natural gas consumption by an impressive 28 per cent – resulting in $75,510 in savings annually. Because Aviagen reduced its gas consumption by 54,665 hundred cubic feet (CCF) over the year, the company in turn reduced its carbon emissions by 333 tons, according to metrics established by the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

  • Diesel fuel savings. The Athens mill today produces pellets that are denser, by about 12 per cent, than they were prior to the upgrade. Denser pellets allow Aviagen trucks to deliver more feed per load – 2.22 tons more, in fact. And that means fewer trips in Aviagen’s diesel-powered semi-trailer trucks. During the mill’s first year after the upgrade, the company reduced its total truck load count by 236, resulting in a total fuel savings of $63,200. And by driving 17,313 fewer miles, Aviagen reduced its carbon emissions by another 43 tons, based on EIA estimates.

"Minimizing the environmental impact of our feed production demonstrates that Aviagen takes sustainability seriously," added Mr Obermeyer. "Certainly, we’re saving money compared to our energy expenses from last year. Also by reducing our carbon emissions so dramatically, we’re helping to save something even more important."

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