Could cow manure be the future of green energy? | Fox News

Green Economy

Could cow manure be the future of green energy?

The next time you drive past a farm and smell cow manure, here's something to think about while you're holding your nose.  The stinky stuff could someday be an inexpensive  source for fueling your car and powering your home.

The green energy concept is already in use in places around the country and has been for years, but lately the technology has gone to a whole new level. 

Fair Oaks Farm, in Fair Oaks, Indiana is not only one of the largest dairy farms in the country, its also at the front end of innovation.  This 30,000 acre dairy farm harnesses the power of poop from tens of thousands of cows, to run its barns, offices, cheese factory and gift shop.  What takes this farm one step ahead of the others is its ability to power its 42 tractor trailers that deliver milk to nearby states with renewable gas that also comes from animal waste. "We're self sufficient and we're lowering our carbon footprint" says Gary Corbett, Fair Oaks Farm CEO.

The process of turning the waste into natural gas by using what are called anaerobic digesters, has become much more efficient.  "We take the manure from the cows and put it into sealed digester vessels, the manure is heated to 100 degrees at which the bacteria produces methane and CO2, which is called biogas.  The Biogas is cleaned to remove the CO2, using water and pressure to create biomethane, which is then odorized to create renewable natural gas" explains Mark Stoermann of AMP Americas, an energy company partnering with Fair Oaks Farm to create the fuel. 

The cow power concept is also saving the farm millions of dollars a year. "We were running all these diesel trucks and we began to look at the potential of replacing all that diesel with natural gas.  Then we figured out how to create our own natural gas instead of buying the diesel, so it saves us a lot of money, lowers emissions and helps clean up air quality in the cities where the trucks deliver" Corbett explains. “In 2013, we will take personally 2-million gallons of diesel of the road that we used in 2011 to deliver our milk.”  And Corbett says, the biofuel burns cleanly so its better for the environment. 

“With renewable natural gas, using organic waste like we’re doing here, there really is an unlimited supply as long as we continue to produce waste products and are able to digest them and convert them into energy.”  says Stoermann. 

With 36,000 cows on the farm and million gallons of manure on site, a constant source of energy is readily available.  But the cows don't get all the credit.  Fair Oaks is working with 3000 pigs as well.  While pig waste is not as efficient for making fuel, its used as an additive to boost the power of the cow waste.  So no waste goes to waste, and there's practically an unlimited supply.  "As long as we keep milking cows, we'll never run out of gas"  Corbett says. 

“We’re working with dairy producers and other industries to start to power their fleets on natural renewable natural gas all through the United States, and AMP America’s is building out infrastructure to allow them to be able fuel all up and down the interstate highway system.”  Stoermann adds.

Its a fuel source not only for the farms but for nearby towns as well. "One cow can power a home," says Erin Fitzgerald, from The Innovation Center for US Dairy. And since the excess gas can be sold back to the grid "Its a new source of revenue for dairy farmers" who have been struggling in recent years, she says. 

And there are already investors looking to take this technology beyond the farm, to make it available for wider use as electricity in towns and cities.

"Turning farm waste into fuel has amazing potential" says energy technology consultant Brian Dolrein.  "I can imagine a time in the near future when homes and factories will be powered by it and our cars will be running on it.  It could reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil".  

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14 people listening
2lib4meRileyRWShep53GP RussellLong Beach BumnosmokeBarryMcDroneJust KeithS. AllenTexasBlonde51

One cow can power 150 homes?  Really?  Are people really stupid enough to believe that?


And not one penny of Obamas green energy money was required.  Imagine if all of the gung ho companies, with their hands out for taxpayer money, would do what this one family did. 


If cow manure is the future, then go buy up all you can get your hands on, so to speak, because Obama will subsidize it with billions of taxpayer dollars. Remember how we were all told how cheap wind and solar were going to be? Not so cheap anymore.

Long Beach Bum

Animal manure has been used in several countries for hundreds of years but not on a large enough scale to supply more than a couple of houses. To sustain a large operation it would take several herds to supply enough manure to generate the bio gas needed to run the engines to make electricity. The one good thing is after it releases the gas it is still good for replacing nutrients back into the soil. 

GP Russell

"Could cow manure be the future of green energy?"

I just knew the Democrats would get around to this!  It's what they have the most of, if you take my meaning.     ;-)


@GP Russell But, but, but then they will not be able to run around screaming with their knee jerk reaction screaming cow manure is causing global warming and....and.....they will have to find a new torch to bear for a screaming knee jerk reaction.

     They should have thought of this idea years ago. I remember way back in the dark ages reading about people who burned the manure from their farm animals for cooking. Maybe it was forgotten because teachers do not teach history or about other cultures in school anymore.


There are those that use the stuff to heat their homes and cook their food now, what's the big deal. They also use it to grow the stuff we eat, nothing new.


This would have to be better then the BS green energy policy of this administration. Except for the methane gas ruining the atmosphere the vegans complain about.


It might as well be. . . . . .all of Obama's green initiatives have turned to $hit!


"..........cow manure be the future of green energy?"...the democrats have been feeding it to us for years...


Male bovine fecal matter has been fueling the Obama 24/7/365 campaigner in chief's presidency for over 4 years. Al Gore's "global warming" agenda is fueled by male bovine fecal matter. It seems logical that the people finally realize that the green energy agenda is nothing but redistribution of wealth, fueled by male bovine fecal matter also.

Leon Jones

since we're already subsidizing 75% of wind "energy?" to keep the cost competitive, I can easily predict a boondoggle of grant sniffing opportunists coming out of the manure pile to exploit this crap. I'm sure the real hold up is there are not any contributors of slimy politicians in the business yet. I am however, positive we will get solyndra'd once again.


Oh no! I can see it now. Some poor soul stranded on the side of the road trying to take a quick dump to refuel his Flux Capacitor so his car can continue down the road.


Green energy? Not so much, might want to have a read first : 

UN Report: Climate Change and Livestock (Livestock's Role in Climate Change and Air Pollution)


If it's from a Bull, we already have enough of it.  Gore, Biden, Obama, manufactures it on a daily basis.  Energy forever!


I think manure is already at the core of the Green Energy lobby. Maybe not cow, but bull.

S. Allen
Just Keith
Long Beach Bum
GP Russell