Farmer saves $200,000 a year with poo power

Discussion in 'Energy' started by Chris, Aug 1, 2009.

  1. Chris

    Chris Gold Member

    May 30, 2008
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    ROCKWOOD, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- Four generations of Saylors have worked the family's dairy farm for nearly a century, but for the past three years, the cows have been doing something besides providing milk: They've been helping power the place.

    "The farm used to get a lot of complaints," says farmer Shawn Saylor. "It used to stink a lot."

    Growing up on the sprawling spread 90 minutes from Pittsburgh, 36-year-old farmer Shawn Saylor developed into a self-described science buff.

    So it was no surprise that, when faced with rising energy costs, Saylor turned to technology.

    He tapped into an abundant and easily accessible energy source: manure from about 600 cows.

    "It's a pretty simple process. There's not really a lot to it," Saylor said. "Manure comes from the cows, and there's energy left in the manure."

    The process is known as anaerobic digestion, and here's how it works:

    With the help of a mechanical scraper in the barn, manure drops into a 19,000-gallon tank. The slurry then moves into the digester, which is 16 feet deep and 70 feet in diameter. It's heated there for about 16 days while the bacteria break down the organic matter in order to produce methane gas. That gas is burned in two engine generators to make electricity. See an interactive explaining the process »

    Heat created by the generators keeps the digester hot, heats the buildings around the farm and helps provide hot water.

    The electricity is used to power this farm and a dozen neighboring homes, Saylor said. And there's still some left over, which he sells back to the grid.

    Farmer saves $200,000 with poo power -

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