Hog manure could fuel your truck or car

Missouri manure-to-energy project creates renewable natural gas supply

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Covered Lagoon at Ruckman Farm
An impermeable cover at Smithfield Foods Hog Production’s Ruckman Farm in Northwest Missouri is part of a $120 million manure-to-energy project. Roeslein Alternative Energy will capture biogas created during the anaerobic digestion of manure from nearly two million hogs annually and begin placing it into a national pipeline in Summer 2016. (PRNewsFoto/Roeslein Alternative Energy, LLC)

ALBANY, Mo. — Roeslein Alternative Energy is working with Smithfield Foods in Missouri to create Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), available to the national grid system, from one of the largest concentrations of finishing hogs in the Midwest.

Officials say it will be operational by mid-2016.

Ruckman Farm is one of nine Smithfield Foods Missouri hog production facilities involved in the largest livestock manure-to-energy project of its kind — a $120 million project.

Biogas will be captured during the anaerobic digestion of manure from nearly 2 million hogs annually and placed into a national pipeline beginning next summer.

When complete, the project will produce approximately 2.2 billion cubic feet of pipeline quality RNG annually and prevent approximately 850,000 tons of CO2 equivalent methane from reaching the atmosphere each year.

“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,” said Rudi Roeslein, founder and president of Roeslein Alternative Energy.

“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, director of environmental health and safety, Smithfield Hog Production.

Two phase project

Phase One, which is nearly 50 percent complete, 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 and developing an inter-connection to a natural gas pipeline that transverses Ruckman Farm.

Duke Energy in North Carolina has agreed to purchase a portion of the RNG to help meet clean energy requirements for power generation.

Jobs created

The project is providing $120 million in new work for Missouri supply chain, manufacturing, and construction companies and their employees.

“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.

Horizon Two

Roeslein Alternative Energy intends to supplement the hog manure feedstock with biomass harvested from restored prairie grasslands to produce additional RNG.

The intent of Horizon Two is to provide an economic incentive to convert highly erodible or marginal land, currently used for commercial agriculture production, to environmentally beneficial prairie.

Officials say RNG production will double under Horizon Two with the addition of prairie grass biomass to supplement the hog manure feedstock.

“We hope to demonstrate the concept on a small scale at Ruckman, move it to other farms and then hopefully across the Midwest,” Roeslein said.

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