Referred to as “the largest livestock manure-to-energy project of its kind,” Roeslein Alternative Energy will begin producing Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) this summer from nine Smithfield Foods’ hog farms in Missouri. When the project is completed, each year it will turn 850,000 tons of methane (which would otherwise go into the atmosphere and contribute to the greenhouse gases that cause global warming) into 2.2 billion cubic feet of RNG. That’s equal to 17 million gallons of diesel fuel!
A Whole New Level of Sustainability
Both economically and environmentally, the technology makes sense and can be replicated worldwide. Blake Boxley, Director of Environmental Health and Safety, Smithfield Hog Production, explains, “This project will show how farmers can do more than produce food. We can make energy, we can reduce waste, and we can be good stewards for our most important resources – land and water.”
Yes, there is such a thing. Eighty-eight of them, in fact, at Smithfield Foods’ hog farms. Phase one of the $120 million project began back in 2014 by creating covers for these manure lagoons. The covers keep methane gas from escaping into the atmosphere, keep the rain out, and as you can imagine, greatly improve the way the air smells! Phase two is underway which involves technology that purifies the methane gas and then connects it to the natural gas pipeline. The project is on schedule to be completed this summer.
Transforming America’s Heartland
Turning manure into energy isn’t the only transformation Roeslein Alternate Energy has in store for the Midwest. Future plans involve restoring prairie grasslands to produce prairie grass biomass that will also be converted into energy along with the manure. The prairie grass addition will double the project’s energy production and fund the transformation of marginal land into stretches of beautiful prairies filled with native wildlife.