Turkeys don’t just offer fuel on a Thanksgiving plate. Two Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers found turkey poop could act as a potent alternative energy source – and could actually replace around 10 percent of coal utilized for electricity generation.
Turkey, chicken, and other poultry poop, when treated and converted to solid biomass fuel, could offer an alternative to coal. Biomass comprises 73 percent of renewable energy production around the world, according to a press release on the work, but instead of growing crops for biomass, utilizing turkey excrement could solve two problems. The researchers said in the statement, “Environmentally safe disposal of poultry excrement has become a significant problem. Converting poultry waste to solid fuel, a less resource-intensive, renewable energy source is an environmentally superior alternative that also reduces reliance on fossil fuels.”
They compared turkey poop as biochar and hydrochar; the first is “produced by slow heating of the biomass at a temperature of 450 degrees Celsius in an oxygen-free furnace” and the second by “heating wet biomass to a much lower temperature of up to 250 degrees Celsius under pressure” in a process known as hydrothermal carbonization (HTC). Turkey poop processed as hydrochar seemed like the better option, offering 24 percent higher net energy generation, according to the researchers, who said, “Poultry waste hydrochar generates heat at high temperatures and combusts in a similar manner to coal, an important factor in replacing it as renewable energy source.”
The researchers discovered greater temperatures during the HTC process resulted in a reduction of methane and ammonia emissions, although there were increases in carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. But researcher Amit Gross said, “Our findings could help significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation and agricultural waste.”
The journal Applied Energy published the research online this month.