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Cow Manure --> Electricity

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the cow-power dept.

Science 519

jmtpi writes "ABCNews has a story about a dairy farm in Minnesota that uses its cow manure to generate enough electricity to power the farm plus 80 homes and create fertilizer. There's also a more detailed story."

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This story... (5, Funny)

asramchusak (652686) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472627)

Is a crock of shit. :)

This story (-1, Redundant)

wganz (113345) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472631)

This story is only about BS!

pollution? (0, Troll)

jkcity (577735) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472632)

I'm sure burning this stuff will be creating lots of pollution, oh well earth has to end some day.

Re:pollution? (1)

Ledskof (169553) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472665)

They Earth will be fine. What you should be worrying about is animal and plant life. Namely, human life. Unless you are the type who doesn't care about the survival of his or her own species.

Re:pollution? (1)

sickmtbnutcase (608308) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472680)

I'm sure burning this stuff will be creating lots of pollution

ok, lets just keep burning coal...forget cleaner burning methane...

Re:pollution? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472683)

RTFA, please.

The manure is not burned, rather it is "cooked" at 100 degrees (C or F, dunno), and the methane is collected. Yes, methane. Natural gas, in other words. Not the cleanest stuff ever, but it's definitely better than coal.

Re:pollution? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472732)

"Not the cleanest stuff ever"

What's cleaner? Hydrogen. Solar/geothermal/wind/hydropower. That's it. It's probaby one of the cleanest energy sources out there.

Re:pollution? (2, Insightful)

MQBS (264470) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472688)


it gets heated up, not burned; no byproduct, and the power from the manure goes to keep it hot. So as long as they can grow food, they have power.

Re:pollution? (5, Informative)

Kris Warkentin (15136) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472692)

> I'm sure burning this stuff will be creating
> lots of pollution, oh well earth has to end
> some day

No, this is BURNING the pollution. Methane is the pollution produced from rotting cow manure. Burning it reduces it to heat, water and carbon dioxide. Much less harmful to the environment.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472753)

In Soviet Russia, hot grits pour themselves on YOU.

Re:pollution? (2, Insightful)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472701)

The methane is being generated no matter how you look at it. So the question is do we just let it escape into the atmosphere or do we burn it, producing energy + H2O + CO2.

I think this is a great way for these farmers to make some extra cash.

Re:pollution? (4, Informative)

s20451 (410424) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472761)

Nope. Think of it this way:

1. Cow eats grass.
2. Cow produces waste.
3. Bacteria degrades waste to methane.
4. Digester burns methane, produces CO2.
5. Grass absorbs CO2.
6. Go to 1.

Ideally, no more CO2 is produced than was in the grass anyway, so this process adds no more CO2 to the atmosphere. Furthermore, methane is very clean-burning, producing very little in the way of noxious by-products. In fact, since the grass produces energy from sunlight, you could think of this as a type of solar power!

Re:pollution? (1)

soundofthemoon (623369) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472795)

Here's a nice potential benefit. Methane is a greenhouse gas. I've read that the cattle industry generates a significant fraction of the US greenhouse gas output. Of course burning methane produces CO2, which is also a greenhouse gas, but I think the net reduction in greenhouse effect of capturing the methane still outweighs the CO2 produced. So you could view this style of energy generation as producing negative pollution. Cool!

Another potential optimization: use the methane to run a fuel cell generator. Get rid of the combustion generator and do it with greater efficiency and less waste heat.

Speaking of heat, I don't understand why they have to heat the tank. When my family composted manure (rural upbringing), the bacteria produced a LOT of heat. You actually have to be careful with compost heaps, as they can set themselves on fire if they get too hot.

I smell a winner! (5, Funny)

FrostedWheat (172733) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472633)

Ahhh the sweet smell of efficency. *takes a deep breath*


Cow pucky (-1, Redundant)

wholecake (640250) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472634)


Which just goes to prove... (3, Funny)

mikosullivan (320993) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472636)

... the power of bullshit.

Re:Which just goes to prove... (5, Funny)

ATMAvatar (648864) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472699)

... the power of bullshit.

If we could round up all the politicians in DC, we could power the world.

Re:Which just goes to prove... (0, Offtopic)

catch23 (97972) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472714)

LOL... why is this redundant? Again, slashdot moderators fail in the humor department.

Re:Which just goes to prove... (1)

Ledskof (169553) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472758)

Compare the definition of redundant with the number of times this joke showed up, and you might be able to answer your own question.

No big deal (0, Offtopic)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472637)

I can also make fertiliser from cow manure.

Hmmm burn coal? (-1, Flamebait)

trotski (592530) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472638)

Why not just burn coal?

It's just as bad for the environment, and not nearly as smelly.... I don't really want to smell the fumes of burning shit, thank you!

Re:Hmmm burn coal? (4, Informative)

cascino (454769) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472676)

If you read the article, you'll see that they're not burning the manure, they're simply expiditing the anaerobic processes of bacteria that consume it. In fact, the farmer touts "odor reduction" as a benefit of the process.

Re:Hmmm burn coal? (2, Insightful)

CommieOverlord (234015) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472685)

Because coal needs to be mined. A dangerous and environmentally unfriendly activity. The shit is already on hand, why not just use it?

With a proper plant with proper filters, I can't imagine that burning shit is going to be problem. Can't be anyworse than having lie on the ground.

Re:Hmmm burn coal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472716)

Burning methane creates only water and carbon dioxide. Burning coal, which often contains sulfur, creates acid rain.

Re:Hmmm burn coal? (1)

Ledskof (169553) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472717)

Other than the fact that burning manure has nothing to do with the article, coal doesn't come out of cow ass.

Re:Hmmm burn coal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472769)

Not unless the cow was really constipated.

Re:Hmmm burn coal? (1)

Ledskof (169553) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472790)

Or the cow ate the average american diet, which includes dairy.

Re:Hmmm burn trolls? (4, Informative)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472785)

Why not just burn coal?

Because farms don't produce coal. Farms produce manure (as waste), and the manure produces methane, wich is a smelly pollutant.
What these farmers can do is turn that smelly waste into a profitable ressource.

It's just as bad for the environment

No, its much much worse for the environment to dig out buried carbon and release it into the atmosphere than to prevent the release of methane in the atmosphere.

I don't really want to smell the fumes of burning shit, thank you!

Yes, you should thank them, since they are saving you from having to smell those fumes by transforming the manure in a closed system and then burning the methane quite thoroughly. Methane then ends up as water vapor, CO2 and energy.
Wich is much better smelling than raw manure.

Now, had you read the article before trolling about coal, you'd have known all that.

Re:Hmmm burn coal? (1)

abirdman (557790) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472803)

Just a note: there's a lot more cow manure being produced nowadays than coal. The concept of "renewable" is a big deal to anyone who thinks there will be a world in the next 100 years.

two points of contact ... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472639)

and I load of bull in the middle ...

Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472641)

Let the conspiricy theorist run with this one...

How we could have done this 20 years ago, but 'Big Oil' kept the secret away from us... so Bush could be President and protect 'Big Oil' from the evil Iraqis!!!

Re:Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472764)

Hey dumbass- western society has been developing its dependency on oil for the past 150 years. 20 years wouldnt have changed anything.

Why? (0, Offtopic)

Nick Fury (624480) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472642)

Why are we still using oil? Why must we support oil tycoons when we can all have milk and power our homes at the same time? I am off to find Jack and trade him some beans for a cow!

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472747)

Because it will cost trillions of dollars to switch, is that a good enough reason?

Omited from the story: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472643)

Journalist defeats Blaster and captures Master to secure story on electricity from manure.

truimph the cow says... (4, Funny)

dotgod (567913) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472647)

That's a nice generator...

This is supposed to be news? (0, Redundant)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472650)

Give me a break. The Chinese were generating electricity from biogas 100,000 years ago!

Re:This is supposed to be news? (5, Informative)

vortmax(OU) (445229) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472725)

Not to mention Heifer Project International [] has been teaching folks in the Third World(tm) how to do this for years on a small scale, mostly for cooking and heating fuel. Some livestock manure, a metal barrel with a lid, some water, and a rubber hose to siphon off the gas. Cheap, and efficient!

When I was a kid... (4, Insightful)

DwarfGoanna (447841) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472651)

I thought the future was going to get bigger, brighter, better, and flying (cars). Now as I get older, and understand more about population issues, it seems we are going to have to come up with more and more clever ways of re-using waste products. I suppose this is better in the long run (?) but hopefully I will still be able to drive a flying, shit-powered car before I die. Hopefully I can get the OUTATIME vanity plate someone else in my state does.

Re:When I was a kid... (1)

Afrosheen (42464) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472707)

Yeah buddy, just wait. Someday we'll recycle each other.

"Soylent peeeeopullllllll!"

Re:When I was a kid... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472726)

way to ruin the film for me, asshole. now i'm /definitely/ not seeing it.

Re:When I was a kid... (1)

Ranma (3995) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472752)

That has to be the hardest I've laughed in years. Shit powered car.. bwahaha.

Great... (1)

Kobal (597997) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472654)

How is this news? Oh, yes, now I see, the USA soon will be as developped as China where it's been done on a large scale for years.

shit that's amazing... (2, Funny)

jonveit (633746) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472657)


CowboyNeal option... (0, Offtopic)

mad44 (516192) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472659)

In case someone would start a poll on this topic, I will go with the CowboyNeal option... :)

Human waste (1, Insightful)

Nexum (516661) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472661)

Anyonw here qualified to know if this could be applied to human waste?

I would imagine we get a lot less methane out of ours, but these guys seem to be making a fair bit.

Also does anyone know what kind of pollution levels these things create? It seems like it would be fairly clean but I'm not an expert on burning shit.


Re:Human waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472798)

many cities already have power generation on thier municipal waste plants, and from landfills look fro DTE Biomass

Re:Human waste (5, Informative)

ax_johnson (261223) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472801)

Well, IAARCE (I am a Registered Civil Engineer), and yes, this does work with human waste. In fact, it's probably being used at your local wastewater treatment plant now to power their pumps and such. It's as very common way to reduce -or eliminate - electricity costs at treatment plants.

It also works at landfills. Methane is extracted from the landfill, and used to turn generators. The electricity is fed into the power grid, and the power company pays the landfill operator (usually the county) for the juice. Here in Northern California, the power company (Pacific Graft & Extortion - AKA PG&E) is legally required to purchase the power.


choose your major carefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472662)

todays electrician is tomorrows shit scooper.

In other news.... (2, Funny)

lildogie (54998) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472666)

Flying cows replace power transmission lines.

Using cow manure for this is dangerous (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472669)

Yo, niggers, motherfuck! Fly bitches when I walk! Suck my motherfucking dick and like it, you piece of shit. I have a huge throbbing cock, niggers, so suck it down. Niggers fucking suck. Goddamn niggers! Motherfuck! Fly bitches! Eat shit and die! Niggers suck. I hate all the fucking niggers. I hate lowlife pieces of shit. Niggers fucking suck! Motherfuck! Fly bitches! Suck my dick and fucking like it! You are a fucking nigger. All moderators and editors are fucking niggers. Kiss my ass. Motherfuck! Fly bitches! You can't handle my fucking huge cock. Suck my dick and fucking like it! I hate niggers! Lynch all the fuckers! Eat shit and die! Motherfuck! Fly bitches when I walk! Suck my dick and fucking like it. You are a nigger for reading this post! Moderators are niggers for modding me down. Cherish my fucking balls! Motherfuck! Fly bitches! Suck it down lowlife fucking nigger. Eat a fucking dick! Son of a bitch! Fuck! Shit! Cunt! Nigger! Fuck you, all of you! You suck fucking dick! Motherfuck! Fly bitches when I walk! Nigger! Kill the motherfucking niggers!

I smell a failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472678)

Sounds like a shitty investment.'s my joke for this story: (1)

IronTek (153138) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472679)

Yeah...this really brings the meaning of the term, "Dirty Power" to a whole new level!

Heard this joke...Cows with collection bags... (0)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472689)

But seriously folks, I'm all for alternet engery sources. Just not at the expense of reason. Nuclear is still the best existing form of renewable energy. All we need to do is develop an entire lifecycle managment system.

Re:Heard this joke...Cows with collection bags... (1)

athakur999 (44340) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472727)

Nuclear is still the best existing form of renewable energy

How is nuclear energy renewable? I haven't noticed any uranium popping up in my yard...

Re:Heard this joke...Cows with collection bags... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472729)

hey dumbass, nuclear energy is not renewable- it just lasts longer. But someday we will run out of uranium.

Re:Heard this joke...Cows with collection bags... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472796)

Good point, but nuclear is not considered renewable.

That said, it seems given the success some folks have had in persuading the general public that "nuclear" is bad, few dollars have been put into the whole lifecycle management system. Frankly, I think it stinks because we transport far more hazardous materials and bury millions of tons of cancer causing crap into landfills every year.

But a combination of hydrogen, biomass, and nuclear should have weaned ourselves off the oil dependency years ago. It is unlikely we will totally eliminate oil, but we wouldn't be overly dependent on it either, as we are now.

Here it is (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472694)

By E. M. Morrison
Photos by Rolf Hagberg

Princeton, Minn. -- For a time last winter, Dennis Haubenschild's dairy cows were earning him 40 cents a day from their milk and 30 cents a day from their electricity.

Electricity from cows? That's right.

Haubenschild Farms is the first Minnesota farm to produce "cow power." The 760-cow family farm uses anaerobic manure digestion to produce methane for electricity. The waste digester supplies enough power to run the entire farm, plus 78 average homes.

Farm digesters are attracting widespread interest. State experts say these manure treatment systems could bring important economic and environmental benefits to Minnesota agriculture. The technology lets farmers make a valuable new ag product -- electricity -- while reducing odor and creating high-quality fertilizer.

Manure to methane

The dairy cows at Haubenschild Farms produce 22,000 gallons of manure a day. That manure, in turn, yields about 80,000 cubic feet of "biogas" a day -- enough to generate 3,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. How does it happen? It is microbe magic.

Cow manure, together with recycled newspaper bedding, is scraped from the freestall barn three times a day, mixed to a smooth consistency, then pumped into a 350,000-gallon covered digester tank, which looks like a long white sausage.

There, the manure is heated to about 100 degrees F, speeding the action of beneficial bacteria in the tank. As bacteria break the manure down, they give off gas -- mostly methane, which collects under the tank cover. After three weeks in the digester, the manure -- now a lot less smelly -- empties into a storage lagoon for later application to the farm's 1,000 acres of cropland.

Juice to run the farm

Captured methane is burned in a retrofitted natural gas engine, which drives a 150-kilowatt electrical generator. Recovered heat from the engine warms the digester and the barn floors.

About 45 percent of the Haubenschilds' electrical output is distributed on the farm, offsetting $700 a week of electricity expense, Dennis Haubenschild says.

The rest of the electricity is sold to a local power cooperative, East Central Energy, which markets it as renewable energy. An enthusiastic partner in the project, East Central Energy pays 7.25 cents per kilowatt hour for the Haubenschilds' excess electricity -- the full retail rate.

Farm sales of electricity average $900 a week, Haubenschild says. When milk prices fell to all-time lows last year, his net returns from energy approached those from milk.

Smell begone

The Haubenschild digester, called a plug-flow, has been operating since September 1999, generating electricity with 98.6 percent reliability, Haubenschild says. But the system delivers other benefits besides electricity.

One of the most significant is odor reduction. "Odor is an important social issue," one that often hamstrings livestock expansion, Haubenschild says. It's also an issue that touches him where he lives: "I don't like to smell manure any more than anyone else. We put in our first lagoon in 1978, right next door to our home. The smell! I thought, there has to be a better way."

Even more important, he says, digestion creates a high-quality fertilizer, converting the nutrients in manure into a more usable form and destroying weed seeds. "That's the biggest reason to work with digesters; manure is your true renewable resource," says Haubenschild, who carries the value of stored manure on his farm balance sheet at $5 per thousand gallons.

The University of Minnesota is conducting a three-year field study to compare the performance of digested manure with raw manure and commercial fertilizers. But Haubenschild is already sold: "It's saving our farm fertility."

Committed over time

Three generations earn their living from the sandy soil of Haubenschild Farms.

In 1952, Dennis' parents, Donald and Myrtle, began farming in Isanti County, running a diversified crop and livestock operation that included ten dairy cows. Over the years, they expanded the dairy herd to 24 head, then 44, installed a freestall barn, then doubled the herd again when Dennis and his wife Marsha joined the business in 1975.

By 1998, the family was milking 150 cows. When Dennis and Marsha's sons, Tom and Bryan, wanted to start farming, too, "that meant we had to expand," Dennis says.

The family planned a 1,000-head dairy. Dennis, a member of the Minnesota Feedlot and Manure Management Advisory Committee, was well aware of the manure and odor problems associated with a dairy feedlot of that size. Installing a digester was a way to expand "in an environmentally sound way."

Digesting in the basement

Dennis, 53, has been interested in waste digesters since college. "I had a little digester in the basement. Instead of brewing wine, like other college kids, I was brewing methane. So I knew it worked."

In fact, small anaerobic digesters have been used in China and India for decades, and more than 450 farm digesters generate fuel in Europe. In this country, dozens of manure digesters were built in the 1970s and '80s, says Jack Johnson, AURI engineering services director in Waseca. Many of those failed, he says, because of high capital costs and a low return on investment. Now, he estimates, fewer than 45 manure digesters exist on U.S. farms.

Interest surges

But recently there has been renewed interest in the technology. Several states are supporting farm demonstrations of dairy and swine manure digesters, Johnson says. AgSTAR, a federal waste management program, sponsored 13 digester projects around the country, including the Haubenschilds' digester.

Larger feedlots, new environmental regulations and public outcry over manure odor and greenhouse gases are all influencing the resurgence of digesters, Johnson says. Energy deregulation, rising fuel costs, and growing demand for green power have also spurred interest. In addition, digesters are better designed and more efficient now, he says.

The Haubenschilds have been swamped with inquiries about their system, especially as the energy crisis in California intensifies. In the past 18 months, Dennis says, several thousand people have toured the farm, "and we've had hundreds of calls and e-mails from all over the country.

"Interest in digesters is really growing."

Re:Here it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472777)


Typical... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472695)

...American bullshit science

Re:Typical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472733)

why is it that *EVERY* damn comment with a negative attitude gets modded down?

The parent comment was funny, damnit!!

If you look closely at the picture... (1)

eidechse (472174) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472697) can see Mel Gibson and Tina Turner.

Inefficient (-1, Insightful)

Ledskof (169553) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472703)

800 cows to power 80 homes. That's 10 cow per home. That's amazing efficiency.

I'll just go out back and feed the 10 cows, each of which who consumes more than my entire family.

I hope no one really thinks this is a good idea.
We'd be better off using the land wasted on the cows, to produce biodiesel.

Not that I expected a cow farmer to be the oracle of economic efficiency or anything...

Re:Inefficient (4, Insightful)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472711)

The cows are primarily being used to produce milk. Generating power is just a benefit of recycling their shit. Either way, the same amount of wast is produced, but one way we are doing something useful with it.

Re:Inefficient (2, Insightful)

Ledskof (169553) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472742)

I'm talking about longer term solution. This isn't one. The farmer is calling this the "way of the future".

I don't think cows enter into the "way of the future" in any fashion.

Even producing enough electricity to power their own farm and a few more homes doesn't make up for how inneficient it is compared to other solutions, namely ones that don't include drink milk.

Re:Inefficient (1)

Noehre (16438) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472783)

People can't eat or drink biodiesel.

Unless you decide to legislate a vegetarian diet, people are going to continue to eat meat, drink milk, and wear wool.

Re:Inefficient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472718)

But, if the cows are already being used to produce milk, steaks, and leather, why not use them to power the cow facility and a couple homes while they're at it? It is efficient simply because it allows one to milk further use (no pun intended) out of their cows.

Re:Inefficient (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472749)

I hope no one really thinks this is a good idea.
We'd be better off using the land wasted on the cows, to produce biodiesel.

You like beef? How about milk? Butter? Cream with your coffee? Cheese?

Guess what, all of these things come from cows! We need cows on hand to make them and we might as well get even more from them while we're at it. You can only use so much fertilizer, so what are we going to do with the rest of the manure? Throwing it out is the pinacle of idiocy. We went to all the trouble to feed the cows the food so let's use what the cows didn't.

Biodiesel is great and all, but I can't eat it. I can eat cheese and beef. With cows we get food AND some electricity to boot.

Re:Inefficient (1)

jwjcmw (552089) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472772)

So you would rather just have the manure put in lagoons that stink up the area, break open during big rainstorms and pollute the local waterways?

The idea is that you use every resource available to it's fullest potential...and that shit is just laying there asking to be composted into a viable fuel. I don't see that is an inefficient process.

Re:Inefficient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472774)

if your goiing to talk about efficiency, you could wonder how many non-north-american-houses could be powered by those 800 cows..

all this creating more energy is nice, but using less of it would be even better. that can be done without decreasing level of lifestyle.

Re:Inefficient (1)

AmigaAvenger (210519) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472787)

Not that I expected a cow farmer to be the oracle of economic efficiency or anything...

farmers are by far the MOST efficient people, and also some of the most environmentally minded people. (and btw, there aren't cow farmers... farming is plants, ranching is animals... This is a cow rancher!!!)

Wow (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472705)

22000 gal manure per day/ 760 cows = 30 gal/cow per day

Doesn't that seem a little hi?

Methane wasted at many facilities (5, Interesting)

n76lima (455808) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472710)

Ever drive by a HUMAN sewage plant? See that orange flame at the top of a tall pipe? That is the same "bio-gas" which is surplus being wasted. See the large spheres nearby? Those are "bio-gas" storage tanks. Many facilities use it to heat the digester tanks to promote microbe growth.

Imagine if human waste treatment were to start generating electricity. Your local water and sewage board could start PAYING you for the privilege of of disposing of your sewage.

Re:Methane wasted at many facilities (2, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472810)

Here in central Arkansas, the municipal waste treatment facilities (at least one site) use the gathered methane to power the entire plant, and also supply power to the local grid.

Cuts costs a bit but doesn't generate a profit (good thing too, or it'd vanish into the city bueracracy thanks to some weird rules!)

Nothing new (5, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472712)

A friend was contracted to design a city landfill which would produce natural gas. It won't hit peak production of natural gas for another 50 years and already produces enough electricty for the city (pop. ~10K) plus excess which is sold. Countless landfills in the US could be doing the same thing, further, the gas that isn't used just escapes into the atmosphere.

If this is such a good idea, and so cost effective, why isn't it being done more places?

"In the USA we don't just waste our natural resources, we waste our waste, too!"

Re:Nothing new (1)

mikosullivan (320993) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472734)

already produces enough electricty for the city (pop. ~10K) plus excess which is sold

Interesting stuff. Which city are you refering to? I'd like to read more about it.

Re:Nothing new (0)

maxlr (621624) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472807)

I live in Lorain County, OH where our local sanitary landfill produces power from captured natural gas. It seems like a great system to me. max

Re:Nothing new (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472808)

It isn't new; if you look at a landfill, try to find some 12" or so pipes above the ground that collect the gas. It is methane, not "natural gas."

One thing to note, though-- the "venting" of the gas is not good. It is a green-house gas. That's why they usually try and burn it in flares wherever there is a concentration.

Interesting thing about using biogas at feed lots is that it actually reduces the cow's environmental impact. If only they could capture the flatulent as well... imagine what the animal rights activists would say!

Holy Cow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472713)

I don't believe this shit.

Technical Data (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472715)

This disc was recorded on an Ampex stereo tape recorder from 10 CPS bottom to 30,000 CPS top; transferred to disc with Neumann lathe plus a Teldec cutting head, and utilizes the standard 'RIAA' playback curve. This disc was pressed from the finest virgin vinyl, in a process that removes surface noise and distortion. A microgroove-stereo pickup with a .0007 tip radius+.0001 is recommended for finest results, with a stylus weight of not more than 4 grams.

Handle this disc with great care, especially avoiding touching the playing surface with fingers (skin oils damage the vinyl). Use a soft damp cloth to clean the disc, and store it carefully in this jacket at moderate temperature. With proper care this high fidelity stereophonic disc should last indefinitely.

Interesting... (1)

jxz (645001) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472722)

This also works for human manure?
My energy bills are much high lately.

Re:Interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472780)

Of course! Didn't you see "The Matrix"?

Mad Max anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472723)

Sounds a lot like the system set up at Mad Max Thunderdome.

So that's how they do it. (1)

jspoon (585173) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472735)

We've never been told explicitly how they get the bioelectic energy out of us, efferectivly transforming us into this this [] []

reminds me of Forrest Gump 2 (the book)... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472738)

but they used pigshit there.

Obligatory Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome reference... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472748)

Biogas power generation around for decades. (5, Informative)

jfisherwa (323744) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472750)

China and India have been at the forefront of biogas power production for decades.

In 1979, China had an estimated 7.2 million biogas plants, fueled primarily by pig manure.

In the same year, India had 80,000 of its own biogas plants fueled by the defecation of the sacred cow. (Holy Shit!)

They've even been doing this in the US for quite some time. Here is another article [] that provides an excellent explanation of the process, costs, and capabilities of such a system.

This story is ... (0)

Snoopy77 (229731) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472754)


a positive trend (5, Insightful)

updog (608318) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472760)

OK, instead of posting some redundant shit joke, consider what this farm and 80 households are doing.

So this might not be the most technologically amazing invention, and it's clearly not going to solve the world's energy problems. But it is an inspiring example of how a few individuals can actually do something less destructive for the environment without being mandated to do so by government regulations.

At the risk of sounding trite, consider what you can do to have a less destructive impact on our planet, even if it doesn't involve thousands of gallons of shit a day.

Washington DC (1, Redundant)

ericdano (113424) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472763)

Imagine what one of these could do in the Nation's Capitol. We'd have enough power to do the whole planet a couple of times over ;-)

Nothing New (1)

GreatOgre (75402) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472766)

This really isn't anything new. The pioneers in the late 1800's burned cow-patties when they were crossing the praries. In fact, cow-patties will emit methane for a fairly long amount of time. One of the California universities (sorry, can't remember which) uses methane off-gased from a landfill.

If the combustion processes is controlled correctly, there is little pollution generated. The biggest problem with either of these dirty fuels is "What impurities are in both of these that are not present in cleaner fuels that cannot be removed?"

veganism (1)

primus_sucks (565583) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472767)

I wonder how many homes could be powered if everyone ate vegan, and we used all the energy it takes to raise all those cows for electricity.

Re:veganism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472794)

Move to India and find out - damn "vegan".

Using cow dung to fight terrorism (0)

Dukeofshadows (607689) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472776)

We've been looking for alternate means of poewr for a while now, especially some with sources that can be used with resources readily available here in the USA. Given the sheer quantity of livestock being raised in the midwest, this could easily be used to reduce the coal being burned for power plants. Even more interestingly, it should be possible to take copious quantities of this shit and refine in into petroleum. That's right...oil from something other than Jurassic Park leftovers.

This could then be used to reduce intake of oil from the middle east, cut back on our support of wacko 3rd world regimes like Saudi Arabia, and cut our trade deficit in half rather quickly. Granted, under the current admin it won't happen since they don't own shares in too many farms, but who knows - Texas and Oklahoma could still become prime sources for oil, but for differnet reasons. gasoline would not be the only product; jet fuel, asphalt, plastics, and every other petroleum derivative would be cheaper and more readily available with this sort of massive domestic petroleum supply.

This does not solve the pollution problem, though. Burning coal, oil, or dung still gives off massive levels of CO2. This becomes a problem with respect to global warming and the potential backlash of global cooling while the planet readjusts. What we need are renewable energy technologies like cow power (Eat More Chicken Now for Cheaper Power Later!) while we work out the kinks on clean power sources like fusion and microwave/solar.

Hopefully someone is thinking along this wavelength and could use bacteria to turn Bessy's leftovers into black gold. That would probably be the hardest part of the process since raw petroleum isn't a uniform compound.

Left this this fights terrorism (1)

Dukeofshadows (607689) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472811)

The third world wackos are the ones funding terrorism...cut off their funding and lots of terrorists will have much fewer resources to use.

what a load of shit! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5472782)

need is say more ?

No panaceum but.... (1)

IAR80 (598046) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472791)

This will not provide a sollution since we need too many cows to produce significant amounts of energy, therefore this will not be a sollution to an energy crisis. But this improoves a litlle the eficiency of the farming and the most important the methane does not escape into the athmosphere. Instead it is burned and CO2 is released. I know that CO2 is greenhouse efect gas but the methane increases MUCH more the geenhouse than C02. This one is good since improoves farming eficiency, gets rid of nasty cow manure smell in farming areas, it is environmental friendly reducing the greenhouse efect and generates electricity. So you better use it! Especialy in Holand when the smell is nasty! :)

In China since 1950s (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472793)

It was too exepensive to run power lines to villages in China, so they used methane power for a long time.

why are there noit energy companies buying this (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472800)

think of the money in it for them!!

Be a patriot! (2, Funny)

Ilan Volow (539597) | more than 11 years ago | (#5472806)

If you're extremely patriotic, collect all the cow shit you can and store it in your back yard. You too can help reduce America's dependency on foreign oil.
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