How Biogas Is Transforming The Farming Community
Ever wonder how manure gets turned into renewable energy? As any hog farmer can
tell you, pigs produce a lot of poop. Traditionally, that’s been a problem because of the
mess, smell, and methane emissions that come with manure, but now waste products
are being turned into biofuel. The result is hog farmers are now selling power to the grid
made from methane that otherwise would have contributed to climate change, and the
unpleasant stenches around farms are being reduced.
Hog farmers store manure in lagoons, which are covered to keep in methane and
pollutants. Next, in an anaerobic digester, the manure is broken down by a chemical
process involving bacteria, and the methane that results is scrubbed into commercial-
grade biogas. The remaining waste products can be used as fertilizer.
Where it’s happening
Biogas from hog manure is being converted to power in many parts of the country, and
there are a number of notable projects in North Carolina in particular. Meat-processing
company Smithfield Foods has ramped up its workforce and is working with hog farmers
to turn their hogs’ waste into clean energy at the large Optima KV facility. Which
operates five anaerobic digesters scrubbing methane captured on the individual farms.
It will produce enough energy to power 1,000 homes a year.