Combustion of Poultry Litter: A Comparison of Using Litter for On-Farm Space Heating Versus Generation of Electricity

Animal Manure Management, Small and Backyard Flocks October 09, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

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Abstract

This presentation will compare using litter as a replacement for LP gas for on-farm space heating with using litter to generate electricity. The comparison includes heating system efficiency, amount of LP off-set possible, value of plant nutrients in the litter, quantity and value of plant nutrients in the litter ash, impact of brokerage, and costs of producing the energy. It was concluded that using litter on-farm as a source of space heat and using the litter ash as fertilizer could provide a potential value of $48 per ton of litter. However, on-farm combustion of litter to produce electricity resulted in a loss of about - $3/ton of litter. Therefore, if a heating and ash management system can be implemented in a cost-effective manner use of litter to off-set 90% or more of the heating energy requirements would be the better of these two alternatives.

Why Is Energy Use Important in Poultry Production?

Modern poultry production requires substantial amounts of energy for space heating (propane/LP gas), ventilation, feed handling, and lighting. It was determined that annual LP gas consumption in broiler houses can range from 150 to 300 gallons of LP per 1000 square feet of floor space with an average of about 240 gal LP/1000 ft2 observed in South Carolina. Similarly, broiler production in South Carolina requires about 2326 kWh/1000 ft2 of house area. As a result, a 6-house broiler farm in SC uses about 30,240 gallons of LP and 293.076 kWh of electricity annually. The cost for energy for a 6-house farm is on the order of $57,456 per year for LP ($1.90/gal LP) and $35,169 per year for electricity ($0.12/kWh). Energy costs have more than doubled over the last decade and as a result producers are very interested in ways to reduce on-farm energy costs by using the energy contained in the litter. The objective of this study was to compare using litter as a replacement for LP gas for on-farm space heating with using litter to generate electricity.

What Did We Do?

Our analysis included heating system efficiency, amount of LP off-set possible, value of plant nutrients in the litter, quantity and value of plant nutrients in the litter ash, impact of brokerage, and costs of producing the energy.

What Have We Learned?

It was concluded that using litter on-farm as a source of space heat and using the litter ash as fertilizer could provide a potential value of $46 to $55 per ton of litter. However, on-farm combustion of litter to produce electricity resulted in a loss of about $3/ton of litter. Therefore, if a heating and ash management system can be implemented in a cost-effective manner use of litter to off-set 90% or more of the heating energy requirements would be the better of these two alternatives.

Future Plans

This information is being used in extension programs that target poultry producers.

Authors

Dr. John P. Chastain, Professor and Extension Agricultural Engineer,  School of Agricultural, Forestry, and Environmental Sciences, Clemson University, jchstn@clemson.edu

Additional Information

Chastain, J.P., A. Coloma-del Valle, and K.P. Moore. 2012. Using Broiler Litter as an Energy Source: Energy Content and Ash Composition. Applied Engineering in Agriculture Vol 28(4):513-522.

Acknowledgements

Support was provided by the Confined Animal Manure Managers Program, Clemson Extension, Clemson University, Clemson, SC.

 

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2013. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Denver, CO. April 1-5, 2013. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

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USDA / NIFA

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.