By capturing greenhouse gases from hog waste and burning them to run a turbine, the system produces enough electricity to power 35 homes for a year. It is expected to be able to prevent the release of greenhouse gases equivalent to nearly 5,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, which is like taking 900 cars off the road.
The $1.2 million prototype system was built at Loyd Ray Farms, a 9,000-head hog finishing operation northwest of Yadkinville, N.C. It is intended to serve as a model for other hog farms seeking to manage waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and develop on-farm renewable power. Though this is an established farm, the system meets North Carolina's environmental standards for new and expanded hog farms.
It was built mostly with off-the-shelf technology and is an "open source" design that others may freely adopt. The system includes a lined and covered anaerobic digester and a lined aeration basin. Methane gas is collected under a thick plastic dome over the digester. Gas which isn't burned in the turbine is burned in a flare to prevent its release.
Open waste lagoons currently in use on most North Carolina hog finishing farms are prolific producers of methane gas, which is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide, pound-for-pound, as a greenhouse gas.
"It is exciting to see the system up and running, and even more exciting that it's getting recognized by Google," said Tatjana Vujic, (TOT-ee-ana VOICH) director of the university's Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative. "Completing this full-scale system and getting it operational is a great testament to its design and the foresight of all of its various supporters."
Duke University and Duke Energy have been developing the pilot project for nearly three years, with additional grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources Lagoon Conversion Program. Duke Energy and the university will share operational and maintenance costs for the first 10 years of operation. Google will assume a share of the university's portion of the costs in return for a portion of the carbon offsets for a 5-year term.
The project is expected to yield many benefits beyond renewable energy production and greenhouse gas reductions, including improved water and air quality; reduced odors, pathogens and nutrients; and increased farm productivity.
"It is rewarding to see three years of hard work come into operation and exciting to have Google as a new partner in this project," said Owen Smith, managing director of Duke Energy's regulated renewables business. "As North Carolina continues to explore new ways to generate renewable energy from hog waste, this site serves as a showcase for what others can do to capture the energy from hog waste and turn it into usable electricity for customers."
Capturing the methane creates carbon offset credits for Duke University and Google and using it to generate electricity creates renewable energy credits for Duke Energy. Loyd Ray Farms will use surplus electricity on-site.
Duke University engineering professor Marc Deshusses and his students are also studying the system's performance. "Now that the system is on the ground, we have an opportunity to evaluate and quantify all of its benefits, and to work on making it more efficient and economical to build and operate," Deshusses said. "Innovative systems that can reduce greenhouse gases plus take waste and turn it into energy are the kinds of things Duke University is anxious to evaluate and promote."
The utility and the university share the Duke name for a reason: Both were founded through the foresight and investment of James Buchanan Duke in the early 20th century. Duke University's carbon offsets initiative was created with support from The Duke Endowment, a non-profit foundation based in Charlotte, N.C.
Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative - sustainability.duke.edu/carbon_offsets/index.php
Google's Green Blog - http://bit.ly/ozVjeh
YouTube Video about the project - youtu.be/znw7t9aqrf4
Tatjana Vujic | EurekAlert!
Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision
Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
20.07.2017 | Information Technology
20.07.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy