We use cookies to ensure that our site works correctly and provides you with the best experience. If you continue using our site without changing your browser settings, we'll assume that you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use and how to manage them by reading our cookies policy. Hide

Manure power to you?

Cow and turbines

12 March 2018

Researchers at the University of Waterloo, Canada, have developed an innovative method for capturing renewable natural gas from cow and pig manure for use as a fuel for heating homes, powering industry, and even as a replacement for diesel fuel in trucks.

It is based on a process called methanation. Biogas from manure is mixed with hydrogen, then run through a catalytic converter, producing methane from carbon dioxide in the biogas through a chemical reaction.

The researchers claim that power could be taken from the grid at times of low demand or generated on-site via wind or solar power to produce the hydrogen. The renewable natural gas produced would yield a large percentage of the manure's energy potential and efficiently store electricity, while emitting a fraction of the gases produced when the manure is used as a fertiliser.

'The potential is huge,' said David Simakov, Professor of Chemical Engineering at Waterloo. 'There are multiple ways we can benefit from this single approach.'

Using a computer model of a 2,000-head dairy farm in Ontario, which already collects manure and converts it into biogas in anaerobic digesters before burning it in generators, the researchers tested the concept. They estimated that a $5-million investment in a methanation system would have a five-year payback period, taking government subsidies for renewable natural gas into account.

'This is how we can make the transition from fossil-based energy to renewable energy using existing infrastructure, which is a tremendous advantage,' Simakov said.

Related links

Share this article