Here’s a fun fact for the Thanksgiving dinner table: Saving the planet could come down to turkey droppings.
Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev published a study determining that poultry excrement could be effectively converted to biofuels and replace approximately 10 percent of coal used in electricity — providing an alternative energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Environmentally safe disposal of poultry excrement has become a significant problem,” the researchers said in a statement. “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.”
The study, published in the journal Applied Energy, processed the bird waste using two systems: hydrochar, which heats wet biomass to 250 °C (482° F) under pressure to mimic coal formation, and biochar, which slowly heats the biomass and hydrochar to 450°C (842°F) in an oxygen-free furnace.
After that process, the researchers found that the result produced 24% higher net energy generation than coal — hardly paltry for the poultry. The process also significantly reduced methane and ammonia emissions, while increasing carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.
“This investigation helped in bridging the gap between hydrochar being considered as a potential energy source toward the development of an alternative renewable fuel,” Prof. Amit Gross, chair of the Department of Environmental Hydrology and Microbiology at BGU’s Zuckerberg Institute, said in a statement.
“Our findings could help significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation and agricultural wastes. Field-scale experiments…should be conducted to confirm the assessments from this laboratory-scale study.”