As the world strives to find smarter and more sustainable ways to source power we turn to alternate means of energy that don’t rely on precious, harmful or wasteful practices or consumptions— means such as wind and solar energy, powering cars electrically or with vegetable oil.
But on the flipside, there are always those nasty things we as a species can’t get away from garnering in mass quantities that would be revolutionary if we could turn into something useful: namely garbage, and poop. Methane and trash are piling up on our planet and there’s nothing you can upcycle about that and sell on Etsy.
A farmer in the U.S. recently started powering his 154 acre farm with manure emissions from his 9,000 hogs.
With the help of Duke University and funding by Google, farmer Loyd Bryant is first to participate in a new “waste-to-fuel project”: the Carbon Offsets Initiative – where not only does the methane gas get recycled into electricity, but these 400,000 gallons of waste per week are transformed into fertilizer for his crops of corn, wheat and beans.
The $1.2 million system was the first full-scale one completed under the initiative, which runs according to all of North Carolina’s environmental standards for reduction of odors and emissions.
Under NC law, 0.07% of electricity must be derived from hog waste beginning in 2012 and that quota climbs to 0.2% by 2018 (the same number required for state sourcing from solar energy).
Methane is a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
From one end of the body to the other, scientists also recently discovered a unique energy-sourced use for one of America’s favourite fatty foods: butter.
*Sensitivity discretion advised to anyone reading from Norway*
The star attraction of this year’s Pennsylvania Farm Show is a 1,000 lb. butter sculpture that isn’t on its way to IHOP once the show’s over – it’s actually going to the hands of one farmer who is going to use the spread to power his entire operation for three whole days.
The farmer – Steve Reinford – is the proud owner of a “methane digester”, which uses substances like butter or the food waste he ingeniously usually collects from his local Wal-Mart) to break down manure into methane, which then converts into electricity. He often reportedly generates enough power this way to sell a lot of it back to the grid.
It’s a methane revolution that doesn’t completely stink.