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For this year’s Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, the ball won’t be the only thing being passed. Three thousand dairy cows from Green Meadows Farm in Michigan will do what they do best and produce manure destined for anaerobic digesters. Using microbes to break down the waste, the system captures methane that would otherwise enter the atmosphere and instead use it to generate electricity and power the digester itself. As one of three projects making up the “Geaux Green” initiative to offset greenhouse gas emissions, fans will be able to buy credits from Green Meadows Farm, or two other environmentally-friendly projects located in California and Texas.
Eco-minded endeavors are nothing new for the Super Bowl, with initiatives such as solar panel installations and turbine projects dating back to the 1990’s. Sponsored by utility company Entergy and supported by President Obama’s AgSTAR program, the Green Meadows Farm project is one of three Climate Action Reserve-certified programs slated for this year’s game.
The Green Meadows Farm capture project began in 2008 when the dairy farm collaborated with Michigan State University to install three anaerobic biodigesters. Capturing gas from three thousand cows is a major undertaking, and each part of the system is designed for the maximum amount of efficiency. Manure is first separated from barn bedding, mixed with water, and piped into the digester. The mixture is heated to 102 degrees Fahrenheit by a heat exchanger powered by hot manure leaving the digester, eliminating the need for an outside energy source.
In the next step, the manure is heated again, this time by using hot water from boilers running on methane collected by the digester. Heating tubes along the sides of the 85ft by 24ft tanks maintain a temperature that allows microorganisms to thrive and produce methane which is collected at the top of the system. As new manure is added to the bottom, older waste is forced to the top. After being used to heat the incoming material, the spent feces are de-watered, treated, and able to then be safely added to soil as fertilizer. The water is clean enough to be used for irrigation, or washing down the system.
It is hoped that by showcasing the Green Meadows Farm through one of our country’s biggest cultural sporting events that clean tech projects can get a major boost in the national the press. At a time when the Keystone XL Pipeline is being touted as a benefit to energy security, it is an excellent counterpoint to hold up solutions that not only create more permanent jobs, but are better for the climate and domestic energy production.
Via Clean Technica
Images via Wikicommons user Angusmclellan