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WhiteTara's Journal
WhiteTara's Journal
January 21, 2022

This California Dairy Farm's Secret Ingredient for Clean Electricity: Cow Poop


Few places encompass this potential future better than Bar 20 Dairy, a dairy farm in Kerman, California, that uses methane from cow manure to produce clean electricity with almost zero carbon emissions. It’s the first dairy farm in the U.S. to power its own clean energy “microgrid” using a biogas, and it could be a tantalizing sign of what the future of green energy might look like for companies with access to plenty of methane.

The technology isn’t all that hard to grasp. Manure and waste water from the farm’s nearly 7,000 cows are transported and sifted into a 25-million-gallon rectangular pit in the ground called a digester. The liquid sits for about 30 days while methane gas rises to the top of the closed digester. The gas then gets piped into a skid shifter, which separates the methane from hydrogen sulfide and other impurities. Finally, the methane is piped into fuel cells that harness it to produce electricity with little to no greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s where Silicon Valley meets the Central Valley,” said N. Ross Buckenham, the CEO of California Bioenergy, a company that operates and builds manure digesters—including the one used by Bar 20 Dairy.

Producing electricity from cow poop (or other forms of agriculture waste like hog manure) is not an entirely new concept. For at least 15 years now, dairy farms from Vermont to Wisconsin have engaged in this kind of small-scale bioenergy production, making enough electricity to power a few hundred homes, and certainly more than enough to keep a large farm running.

I live in Arkansas, home of America's chicken dinner and this would be a game changer!

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