2002 - Volume #26, Issue #5, Page #06[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Chicken Litter Diesel Fuel
The result is that millions of tons of poultry manure could become a valuable commodity instead of a costly burden.
Al Stiller, a chemical engineering professor and researcher, started the work while looking for a way to liquefy coal. He began using old tires as a source of hydrogen for the process. While his process worked, the supply of tires, despite what you may see in landfills, is not sufficient to provide a reliable long-term energy source.
After looking around for a more consistent source, he settled on chicken litter. The chicken manure worked so well in his process he found he didn't need to add coal.
Stiller found that mixing chicken litter and water at the right temperature results in a liquid that will burn by itself, but mixes very well with diesel fuel. He's tested it in diesel fuel with as much as 35 percent manure.
Working with Stiller on the project are Rich Russell, an agricultural scientist, and Eric Johnson, a mechanical engineer.
West Virginia alone has about 350 poultry farms, producing about 91.3 million birds.
Russell says the average West Virginia poultry producer has about 500 tons of poultry manure to dispose of every year. He figures converting it to fuel would not only eliminate a potential hazard and water pollutant, but could create another source of income for producers and the state's economy. He figures that 500 tons of chicken manure could be worth as much as $250,000 when converted to fuel. Multiply that by the number of poultry producers in the state and it looks like an $87.5 million industry.
"Needless to say, this could have a tremendous impact on agriculture," Stiller says. He quotes WVU agricultural scientist Bob Daly as saying it can change everything we thought we knew about agricultural science.
While Stiller and Russell continue to work on the process, Johnson has taken on the task of building a reactor large enough to process half a ton of manure per day. Then they want to build a prototype plant that will process 2 tons per day.
"Our idea is to make a farm-sized reactor, so farmers can produce this fuel for themselves," he says. Stiller sees chicken manure fuel being used by farmers to reduce their petroleum diesel needs by 35 percent.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Al Stiller, professor, College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, 413 Engineering Science Building, Box 6102, Morgantown, W.Va. 26506 (ph 304 293-2111, ext. 2408; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). Or you can contact Rich Russell (ph 304 293-2531, ext. 4437; E-mail: email@example.com. Contact Eric Johnson at 304 293-3111, ext. 2309; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
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