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January 23, 2008



To put this into scale, 4.6Mgal/year oil equivalent is 230barrels/day oil equivalent, or approximately 1 part in 85,000 of US oil consumption. It would take many 1000's of such plants to make any kind of noticable difference.


Correction to Big Tom

4.6 Mgal/year = 109,500 bbl/year = 300 bbl/day
(1 bbl = 42 US gal).

In any case, it's not much.


I wonder how many head of cattle are producing the manure this operation is using?

The US livestock inventory is as follows:

Cattle on Feed - 12 million head
Dairy Cows - 9 million head
Hogs - 65 million head

That is a lot of manure to be had.

Rex Campbell

It/s about time we use the stink of feed lots to convert to methane for energy chinese have been using this form of energy for centuries

George Bruce

True, it is not much. Even if this resource is exploited to the maximum, it won't be very much. However, I imagine that The Solution will be lots of little solutions like this one. Keep 'em coming. (or pooping, as the case may be.)


From http://ir.environmentalpower.com/downloads/HuckabayRidgeFactSheet-Nov2007.pdf

10,000: The number of dairy cows generating manure for Huckabay Ridge



Looks to me like a maximum potential of 5.75% of 2006 U.S. natural gas consumption.

To get that, I used Tim's figure of 20 million head (cattle on feed + dairy cows), the DOE's figure for 2006 natural gas consumption (21,653,086 million cubic feet), and the 10,000 head Gent quoted from the HuckabayRidge fact sheet.

U.S. Consumption:
21,653,086 million cubic feet * 1020 BTU/CF = 22,086,147,720 MMBTU (million BTUs).

If we "HuckabayRidged" all the cattle/cow manure in the U.S., we'd produce:
635,000 MMBTU * 20,000,000 / 10,000 = 1,270,000,000 MMBTU.

1,270,000,000 / 22,086,147,720 = 5.75%

Does that look right?

Sources: http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/ng/ng_cons_sum_dcu_nus_a.htm


If the figures cited by others in these comments are correct, there are enough dairy cows alone to support 900 similar facilities (9000000/10000). 900x300bbl/day = 270,000 bbl/day equivalent - not insignificant at all. Even if only half of all dairy cows are kept in large enough groups to make such a RNG extraction facility economically viable, it's still far more than a drop in the bucket. I imagine of the cattle being raised for meat, any large groups on feedlots could also produce RNG. No idea about hog waste - it may (or may not be) more difficult to use for some reason.

Besides, what's being done with all the manure anyway? Doesn't a lot of it end up in waste lagoons? What's the downside here?


While it is true that this one facility by itself does not contribute much to our overall energy needs, neither does one oil well contribute much to the cubic mile of oil the world uses each year. But when you put together the thousands of oil wells in the world, you have that cubic mile of oil.

I am happy when a facility can take a waste product and turn it into energy that I can use. Simply because a single energy source cannot provide all our needs doesn't mean that it not useful or welcome.


john fry a hog farmer in South Africa - was appalled at the amount of manure he needed to dispose of. So he made his own methane harvesters - enough to power his farm as well as quite a bit that was left over. This was back in the 60s. I think a number of hog farms in the US are now considering the same.

Stephen Boulet

"The facility generates methane-rich biogas from manure and other agricultural waste". How much contribution though might the second part have?


Carl Hage

I visited a friend's family dairy in Germany that had a biogas electric generator. It worked well-- pipes moved waste from the barn to the digester, and a silo was converted to hold a giant gas storage bag. The ICE engine runs fine on biogas without upgrading. When there was waste available, they can dump it in the digester instead of dumping elsewhere. Now I'm wondering if they recycle engine heat to warm the house.

Does it make sense to truck waste to another facility vs generating on-site and shipping out electric energy?

Even if the energy produced is marginal, converting the methane into CO2+energy has 23 times fewer greenhouse gas than letting the methane natually go into the atmosphere.


Don't get me wrong, I'm all for using waste better. The reason for looking at the potential magnitude is to avoid the "the energy/gas problem is now solved" response. It is also possible that the plant waste/manure ratio could be significantly improved. A few percent of NG supply actually is a big deal, but by itself not enough to give us a secure future NG supply.

Kit P

"Does it make sense to truck waste to another facility vs generating on-site and shipping out electric energy?"

It depends. If a large (>1000 cows) dairy farm uses lots of propane to make hot water and is near a power line that can handle the output of the generator, then making electricity would be a good choice. It particularity appealing in remote areas where grid voltage regulation is important.

There are many cases when shipping the manure a short distance makes sense because the waste can be collected from different sources. AD benefits from economy of scale but dairy farmers worry a lot about disease coming from another farm. Putting it in a pipeline instead of getting it from LNG tankers sure does make sense.

Huckabay Ridge is one of those 900% solutions for ghg reduction. A number of years ago I helped with a feasibility study including calculating the ghg reduction using LCA methods for a PUD. Since they had a wind farm they were surprised at how high the numbers are.


john fry - the link I gave above is from an old interview -early 70s - was one of the first to build methane harvesters for his hog farm mainly because he needed to deal with the expense of getting rid of the waste.
He also used the extra heat from the engine that burned the methane to maintain the temp needed for the harvester. He ran it on his farm continuously for 7 years - the other added benefit was no flies, and left over quality compost. interview here


Ahhhh, I was going to ask about the compost. Manure based fertilizer is the good stuff for growing plants. Does the process of making methane kill germs/diseases in the leftover fertilizer?

Kit P

Kim, there are beneficial bacteria and pathogen bacteria. Animal waste including human must be handled carefully. Temperature and pH conditions are controlled carefully so that the so the beneficial bacteria out compete the pathogen bacteria for food, therefore the resulting compost is very safe to handle.

The environmental benefit of AD of animal waste is efficiently capturing the nutrients (N, P, K) to grow bacteria that be put in the soil. The object is to get healthy soil full of living organisms that match the needs of the plants you are growing. If you want to know more about healthy soil go to Www.soilfoodweb.com .

Microgy Technology used at this project operates in the thermophilic temperature range for faster and more complete digestion, more energy, better by-product material. If recall correctly, these AD were developed in Denmark and require tighter controls that what the average would be comfortable with.

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Business Improvement,Australia

I am glad when a facility can take a waste product and turn it into energy that I can use........

SEO Services

Renewable gas from manure is great, right??

Air Purifier

So if they were already moving into full scale commercial operation then where are they at now?

Dentist West LA

Are there a lot of plants in Europe that are using this, or do we only need a few to be working to make a big impact?

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How great that they achieved full-capacity production! Always nice to hear about projects actually WORKING. Haha.

Korean Auto Lease Broker Los Angeles

Are we using this technology?

Rug Cleaning Los Angeles

I didn't know that Europe was already doing this, you say this is the first for the US, are there many more plants now?

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How is this working out?

Office 2010

The new President will have to embrace this exact plan if the United States is to avoid economic catastrophe.

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