July 31, 2009

Dairy farmer harnesses poo power

A Pennsylvania dairy farmer said his farm and several local homes are all powered by the same source -- droppings from his cows.

Shawn Saylor, 36, of Rockwood, said rising energy costs led him to become interested in a process called anaerobic digestion, which involves manure heated for 16 days to make methane gas, which is then burned in two engine generators, CNN reported Friday.

It's a pretty simple process. There's not really a lot to it, Saylor said. Manure comes from the cows, and there's energy left in the manure.

Saylor said the system, which he installed three years ago, powers his farm as well as a few surrounding homes and he still has enough power to sell back to the grid for a profit.

In savings, there's $200,000 a year, in either extra income from sale of electricity or cost offsets, he said. So you're talking about system project costs of over a million dollars to build the system but a payback of five years or less.