Fair Oaks Farm in Indiana is squeezing out more than milk from their 36,000 cows. Around 2 million gallons of compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel is created each year from tons and tons of cow poop.
With a $19 million anaerobic digester (a system that simulates the same process that happens in cows' guts) the cows' manure gets sucked below the stalls into a huge tank and heated for as long as 16 days. The bacteria in the tank break down the organic matter and convert it into fuel for heating, electricity and transport, leaving behind as a side product a very nutritious fertilizer for the farm's fields.
This process is actually nothing new: for years, third world farmers have been using methane created from manure to run electrical generators, with the huge advantage of creating local fuel in countries with little to no infrastructure. The real news is that the U.S. is also beginning to implement this technology on a big scale. As the CEO of Fair Oaks Farm reiterates, we’re going to need sustainability, creativity, and innovation to survive in the 21st century.
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