Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Texas researchers provide emissions data for livestock industry

17.02.2009
A group of Texas-based researchers provided answers for the nation's cattle feeding industry after it was given a very short window by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to begin reporting ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emissions.

The EPA issued a final ruling on Dec. 18 that required the reporting of continuous air releases of these gases by large confined animal feeding operations to local and state emergency management entities.

Until this ruling, the EPA had not required agricultural operations to report air emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986.

But with the new EPA rule, it was determined the reporting was required under the 1986 act and operations falling within the guidelines must report emissions by Jan. 20, said Ben Weinheimer, Texas Cattle Feeders Association vice president.

The rule applies to operations that can emit 100 pounds or more of ammonia or hydrogen sulfide during any 24-hour period, Weinheimer said. These operations are now required to report the emissions to state and local emergency responders.

But with the rule came no guidelines on how to gather that information or report it, and there were no officially adopted emission factors available, he said.

Weinheimer said the industry turned to researchers working on the "Air Quality: Reducing Emissions from Cattle Feedlots and Dairies," a federally funded project headed by Dr. John Sweeten, director of the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Amarillo.

The project researchers, who had been gathering emissions data from area feedlots for the past six years, were pulled together to determine the best way for feed yard operators to estimate their emissions and develop a worksheet for calculating emissions, Sweeten said.

The air quality research project is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service. The organizations that participate are AgriLife Research, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M University, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, West Texas A&M University and Kansas State University.

"The EPA rule basically gave these livestock operations one month to report on-going emissions that exceeded the thresholds," Dr. Ken Casey, AgriLife Research air quality engineer said. "Needless to say releasing the rule when they did, just before Christmas, without any advance notice and requiring reporting in the early new year, left the industry scrambling to get together a response, as well as give responsible guidance to their members," Casey said.

The writing team of Dr. Rick Todd and Dr. Andy Cole, both with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service; Dr. David Parker, West Texas A&M; and Dr. Brent Auvermann, AgriLife Extension, as well as others on their teams, worked to distill the collective ammonia results on short notice.

"We needed to convey to EPA that no single number is adequate to represent a basis for an emission factor, because emissions vary with what the cattle are fed, with the season, and even with the time of day," Auvermann said. "We presented EPA and the cattle-feeding industry with a range of emission factors that we believe would represent most feed yards in our area."

Research from this project has shown that emission rates for ammonia during winter months are about half of the emission rates during summer months, Todd said.

"Texas Panhandle feeding operations with more than 1,000 cattle could exceed the 100 pound/day reporting requirement," Todd said. "But the negative environmental effects of ammonia that EPA is concerned about are most likely where ammonia mixes with urban air pollution, or when ammonia is removed from the atmosphere in rain and over-fertilizes sensitive ecosystems."

He and Auvermann agreed that on the High Plains, ammonia is more of a regional than a local environmental concern.

"Ammonia does not stay in the atmosphere very long in its gaseous form," Auvermann said. "Unless it reacts with other gases to form fine particles, it's gone from the air within a few hours to a few days. And we don't see much of the fine particles around here that would suggest otherwise."

Casey and Parker aggregated hydrogen sulfide field data for the reporting process. Their research shows emission rates for hydrogen sulfide are lower during dry weather conditions and higher in wet conditions. On average, they are three times lower than ammonia concentrations – approaching the minimum detection levels by sophisticated equipment.

"Hydrogen sulfide is not currently classified as a hazardous air pollutant by EPA; it is primarily of local and of minor regional concern," Casey said. "The regulation of hydrogen sulfide varies from state to state."

Concentrations measured at the center of a commercial Panhandle feed yard were substantially below the Texas regulatory threshold for the property boundary during the majority of the two-year monitoring period, he said. And concentrations at the boundary were considerably less than those measured at the center of the yard.

"What these researchers have found is that both ammonia and hydrogen sulfide represent exceedingly low concentrations over relatively large emitting surfaces and long time scales," Sweeten said. "The annual emission numbers can add up to the low threshold values of reporting that EPA just set, but they do not reach levels of general public concern."

Weinheimer said with the quick response of the research group, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association was able to send out "reporting packets" to feed yards in early January and conduct a Webinar on Jan. 15 to explain the requirements to its members.

"From day one, this project has been founded on solid research objectives to address multiple air quality issues facing the cattle feeding industry," said Ross Wilson, president and chief executive officer of Texas Cattle Feeders.

Wilson said it was through this group's efforts and provided data that the industry was able to make a good faith estimate of the lower and upper bounds for both ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emissions.

Dr. John Sweeten | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tamu.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersensitive through quantum entanglement

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>