A project to turn hog manure into renewable natural gas at a Smithfield Hog Production facility in Missouri is on target for completion next summer.
Roeslein Alternative Energy announced on Nov. 3 that a turnkey facility to create and inject large quantities of Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) into the national grid system, created from one of the largest concentrations of finishing hogs in the Midwest, will be operational by mid-2016.
The announcement took place during an event this week at one of the nine Smithfield Foods Missouri hog production facilities involved in the largest livestock manure-to-energy project of its kind.
“The technology we have developed is ready to be deployed commercially in a project that makes both economic sense and environmental sense,” said Rudi Roeslein, RAE founder and president. “This is not just about converting the manure from almost two million pigs into renewable energy. It’s about taking environmental sustainability to a new level.”
“This project will show how farmers can do more than produce food. We can make energy, we can reduce waste, and we can be good stewards for our most important resources – land and water,” said Blake Boxley, Smithfield Hog Production director of environmental health and safety.
Construction on the $120 million project began in 2014 and remains on schedule. The initial phase is nearly 50 percent complete and involves installation of impermeable covers and flare systems on the 88 existing manure lagoons at Smithfield Foods’ hog finishing farms in northern Missouri. The covers reduce greenhouse gases by preventing methane from escaping to the atmosphere, keep rainfall from entering the lagoons and reduce odor.
Phase two involves fabricating and installing technology to purify the biogas captured by the impermeable covers and developing an inter-connection to a natural gas pipeline that transverses the farm site. RNG is projected to enter the pipeline next summer.
The hog manure from the project will produce approximately 2.2 billion cubic feet of pipeline quality RNG, or the equivalent of 17 million gallons of diesel fuel annually. Approximately 850,000 tons of CO2 equivalent methane will be prevented from reaching the atmosphere.
“Since the partnership with Roeslein, we’ve been able to re-stock some farms that had been idle. With their help and their technology, we have since created more than 100 jobs for our grow-finish hog operation in Missouri,” Boxley said.
In addition to using hog manure, RAE ultimately intends to produce RNG from cover crops harvested between growing seasons on prime agriculture land and grasses harvested from highly erodible farm ground converted to native grasslands. The concept creates an economic structure that better utilizes land assets, delivers significant environmental benefits, reduces soil erosion, benefits wildlife and improves water quality.
Roeslein believes the project can be emulated in livestock farms in Iowa and across the United States and can be adapted to nearly any type of manure storage and handling system.