Saint Louis, Missouri based biogas developer, Roeslein Alternative Energy has reached the half way point in the construction of its $120 million facility that will process farm waste and inject Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) into the national grid at Smithfield Foods hog finishing farms in Northern Missouri in the north of the state.
At an event recently the company explained that Phase One of the project, which involves installation of impermeable covers and flare systems on the 88 existing manure lagoons, is nearly 50% complete
According to RAE the covers reduce greenhouse gases by preventing methane from escaping to the atmosphere, keep rainfall from entering the lagoons and reduce odour.
Phase Two of the project will involve fabricating and installing technology to purify the biogas captured by the impermeable covers and developing an inter-connection to a natural gas pipeline operated by ANR, which transverses Ruckman Farm.
The company said that it expects RNG to enter the pipeline in the Summer of 2016.
Utility Duke Energy in North Carolina has agreed to purchase a portion of the RNG to help meet clean energy requirements for power generation.
"The technology we have developed is ready to be deployed commercially in a project that makes both economic sense and environmental sense," commented Rudi Roeslein, founder and president of Roeslein Alternative Energy. "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."
Roeslein Alternative Energy went on to explain that it intends to supplement the organic waste from hog manure feedstock with biomass harvested from restored prairie grasslands to produce additional RNG.
The intent is to provide an economic incentive to convert highly erodible or marginal land, currently used for commercial agriculture production, to environmentally beneficial prairie.
"We are developing a mixture of grasses and native species that provide ecological services, wildlife habitat and biomass that will be co-digested with manure," Roeslein said. “We hope to demonstrate the concept on a small scale at Ruckman, move it to other farms and then hopefully across the Midwest.
Blake Boxley, director of environmental health and safety at Smithfield Hog Production added: "With the introduction of native grasses, we not only produce more energy, but we provide habitat for our wildlife here at the farms. Habitat is something near and dear to our hearts," Boxley said.
A video looking at the project can be viewed below
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