Chicken manure to help power U.K. homes

New power plant in England's Cotswolds region to convert livestock excretions and other agricultural waste into local electricity, fertilizer. Farmers to get heat, money for their biomass.

Alfagy

The picturesque Cotswolds of England will soon be using those lovely animals dotting its hillsides to provide power to some of its homes.

A turnkey biogas station made by Alfagy plans to convert agricultural waste, including both feedstock and manure, into electricity.

The plant, which is scheduled to open November 1, is located on the southern outskirts of Cirencester, an ancient Cotswolds town famous for being a thriving mercantile city during the Roman Empire. But Alfagy says the station could reduce at least two of the area's current imports by using what its people have on hand.

While there have been several projects over the years looking at cow manure as an energy source, this Alfagy plant will use the manure of smaller farm animals, as well as agricultural feedstock.

Participating farmers will deliver corn, wheat, agricultural-plant waste, chicken litter, and pig manure to the station. The farmers will be paid for the biomass and also receive heat for their animal barns, grain-drying bins, and homes.

The agricultural waste is converted into biogas in an anaerobic digester. The station will use a combined heat and power (CHP) system in which one 260-kilowatt CHP unit can perform at a 42.9 percent electrical efficiency, according to Alfagy.

The station is expected to produce about 1 megawatt of electricity per year, enough to power about 350 Cotswolds homes (Cirencester's population is about 19,000). The station will also create digestate fertilizer.

"This 'digestate' is a powerful fertilizer that decreases the average fertilizer costs by up to 100 percent, which is a major cost to farmers and the environment. Normal fertilizer production uses large amounts of fossil fuel [and emits] significant quantities of carbon dioxide, and the finished product is transported over great distances to farmers. Whereas [if] the fertilizer is produced locally at the power plant, there is no necessity in importing it from the U.S.," Alfagy said in a statement.

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About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.

 

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