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August 8, 2009 - 6:34pm

Noblehurst Farms in Pavilion turning methane into energy

posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, Pavilion, Noblehurst.

Nobelhurst Farms in Pavilion runs enough cows to produce 5,000 gallons of milk a day. That many cows also produce a heck of a lot of manure.

Manure means methane and methane can be a pollutant, or it can be a source of power generation.

At Noblehurst, reports the D&C, the manure is being fed into a contraption that turns the methane into electricity.

Over the years, Noblehurst has had to work out some bugs with its digester, but now it is running smoothly and pumping out about 788,400 kilowatt-hours of power a year. On a typical day, manure is moved from 1,700 dairy cows toward the center of the main barn, where it is pushed into underground tubes that feed into a 28,000-gallon pit. The manure is mixed with effluent and pumped into a large digester tank. At the top of the tank, gas accumulates and powers a generator that produces electricity and gives off water and carbon dioxide. Every half hour or so, new manure feeds bacteria that produce the gas. A spout releases gas if too much pressure accumulates.

"That way we don't have a mess," said farm president John Noble.

Nationaly, about 100 suggest manure-to-electricity machines are in use, and 17 or so in New York. Noblehurst received a $250,000 state grant to help pay for the $1 million machine.

Mai Knaym
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What a wonderful story! It is about time we hear about stuff like this! I would love to hear more about GREEN energy and transitions to GREEN energy! I would like more info on the generator... it says "...gas accumulates and powers a generator that produces electricity and gives off water and carbon dioxide." How much C02 is given off? Is there anyway to not give off CO2? I only ask because it seems slightly odd that something is done about the methane, yet it results in the production of CO2 which is just as dangerous a gas to our environment, isn't it? I am just curious and am VERY happy to see people take the initiative!! I am truly hoping to receive a reply that goes to the effect that only a minuscule amount of CO2 is being produced and that methane is a much worse gas which warrants the removal the methane to receive only a small amount of CO2 as the result, as it is better as a whole for the environment to do it this way. (Sorry about the run-on sentence!)
Doug Yeomans
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Giving off CO2 is not a problem here. The process is simply emitting CO2 that was recently removed from the atmosphere when the corn, hay and oats that the cows eat was grown. This process does not raise carbon dioxide emission levels at all.
Doug Yeomans
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The same rule of thumb applies to burning firewood. Burning wood from a tree that has been scrubbing CO2 from the air for 30 years and giving off oxygen has a zero gain on atmospheric CO2.
Doug Yeomans
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I don't buy into the theory that greenhouse gasses are the cause of global climate changes. The fact is, greenhouse gasses tend to rise and decrease "after" climate changes have already taken place. Mai, here's some interesting reading for you if you believe that greenhouse gasses actually cause global climate changes. You should be glad that the farmer is burning off the methane. "Methane gas, abundantly trapped as a half frozen slush in the northern hemisphere's tundra permafrost regions and at the bottom of the sea may well be a ticking time bomb, says geologist John Atcheson. Methane is about twenty times stronger as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide." http://www.newmediaexplorer.org/sepp/2005/02/01/global_warming_methane_c...
Carrol Baker
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This is a great invention and is in use in our neighborhood in Perry, it actually can provide electricity for a large farm and have excess to sell. Makes the area smell better too from less spreading of the manure.

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