Study: Use methane from hog waste

by 5m Editor
22 December 2006, at 10:54am

WILMINGTON - North Carolina hog farms could produce enough electricity to power more than 90,000 homes, according to a new study financed by the state's Utilities Commission.

North Carolina has more than 6 million hogs, the most of any state except Iowa. Using their waste to generate methane gas would produce an estimated 93 megawatts of power, according to the study by LaCapra Associates. One megawatt can serve the needs of about 1,000 homes.

Hog waste has been a contentious issue in the state, particularly in Eastern North Carolina where many of the swine farms operate. The state has put a moratorium on new hog farms while it and the largest pork producers look for affordable alternatives to the open pits where the waste is now dumped.

Using it to generate energy might be one alternative, said Molly Diggins, director of the state branch of the Sierra Club.

Leonard Bull, deputy director of the animal waste research center at N.C. State University, said making the proposal work could be challenging.

"There are two or three technologies which show promise," Bull said. "But the issues about connecting to the electrical grid are difficult. Becoming a power producer is a slow and laborious process."

Source: The News Observer

5m Editor