May 25, 2018
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Comments for: Exeter farm uses poop to produce energy

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  • Anonymous

    Good job , Great people , nice farm

  • Way to go! 

    It’s a breathe of fresh air.


  • Anonymous

    “…..poop to produce energy….”  come on Bangor Daily News, can we be a little more grown up with our choice of words? This is current science, business and technology not 1st grade.

    • Anonymous

      A marvelous enterprise that’s good for all, and you choose to complain about the author’s use of alliteration in the title.  Who is being a first grader?

      • Anonymous

        yes indeed, I agree completely that is a marvelous enterprise…so why not treat it as such with a proper headline?

        • Anonymous

          Actually, we call it SH*T; unless it’s a boutique organic dairy farm, then it’s manure or poop. 

          • Anonymous

            I though it was poop unless it was on the floor, where it didn’t belong?

            The name is to get people to read the article. It’s like suddenly or randomly saying the word sex. People will turn their heads.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, EddingtonME, I agree with YOU! That was my first thought too. Anyone in that field, in farming, etc, would use the term manure. Alliterative or not, it’s a stupid headline for such an advanced form of modern technology and engineering in an age old business.

      • Anonymous

        we dumb hillbillies sure know how to use our poop

    • Anonymous

      I too found it infantile that the BDN would approve “poop” in its headline about a scientific process that intelligent readers would certainly find worth reading. Whatever happened to manure or farm waste. I assume Alex Barber didn’t choose the headline. He should be offended also, after all his work and research to produce this article. Do you suppose it was a toss-up between poop and doo-doo?

      I am hoping, whoever it was who made the decision to settle for “poop” in the headline, didn’t do it based on an assumption that Mainer’s have been dumbed down to the point they wouldn’t recognize big people words for excrement.

      • You assume there more than a few intelligent readers on BDN.  That is a big assumption.

        BDN wanted people to click on it and they got us.

        • Anonymous

          BDN wanted people to click on it and they got us.  LOL…ok….you got me.

          But yes, I do believe people with intelligence read the BDN.

        • Anonymous

          i simply clicked to comment on the poor choice of the word “poop”. haven’t read the article. don’t intend to. 

  • This is an awesome farm and there doing the right thing in terms of helping the enviroment ,it employs local area people ,and maybe they should consider greenhouses of vegetables and plants to use some of the untapped heat that is generated. it could be another side business of the farm ….

  • Anonymous

    Great news!  I’d like to know how much electricity the farm buys back, if anyone has an idea.

  • Anonymous

    While I commend the farm for spending a lot of money on this installation; there are enormous obstacles ahead that have stalled the A.D. market in other states like Calif., Vermont, Pa., Wisc., and upstate New York….all states with a substantially larger population of big dairy/beef farms.

    Producing and selling electricity, unless subsidized, doesn’t produce much money; producing and selling CNG may, esp. if farm vehicles and heating systems are converted from fossil fuels. In some states, a Greenhouse complex is built next door and the heat & liquid fertilizer used to operate it.  ecThe liquid fertilizer can be modified for a variety of markets, i.e. turf building, etc. Remember, that in the spring and summer dairy cows are pastured and naturally ‘spread’ their manure over fields; with a system like this you either lose this feedstock or have to keep your cows penned up since fresh manure is preferred.

    The economics favor the largest farms-this one may be the largest in Maine; however most of the farms are >100 head; and the herd fluctuates with market conditions. Corporate farming practices provide not only reliable supplies of manure, but new stalls with built in automatic scrape systems for periodic collection of manure. Routine disinfection of cows and stalls must be carefully done; since the disinfectants will kill off the four groups of microbes that convert manure into gas. 

    Operating the complex over time is problematic, esp. in corporate farms where new farm managers have to be trained to operate the system. European, Irish, and Danish vendors of these plants will design them for remote instrumentation to control critical variables.  There is no training in the U.S. for managers of these bio-gas refineries; Ontario has adapted a German course which is quite technical going far beyond using a front end loader to remove manure from stalls. 

    Other, more modern farms, like Pineland use lots of wood chips to dispose of manure and then compost it. This is a practice well integrated into the farm. Mixing in other feedstock could jeopardize a farms organic ‘label’ esp. if the spent digester effluent is spread on growing fields.

    Nor is there any infrastructure to deal with the myriad of problems, not the least of which are gas leaks and foaming/crusting.

    I really hope these guys have studied successful European operations and gone to Ontario to look at the ones built over the past year. Maine is converting to natural gas in a major way, and making it from organic waste, manure, sewerage sludge, low grade wood chips, and food waste is a sustainable way to supplement what has?? to be a limited supply of fossil gas from Sable Island, etc.

    Small farm systems are common in India, Nepal, and many European countries; some industries specializing in composites actually manufacture them in India, China, S. Africa, Ireland, and Turkey based on the number of cows, i.e. it is possible to buy a small digester completely made of plastic for just one cow. One can buy microbial colonies over the internet to refresh colonies; and management of Ph. levels can be done with strip testing kits.

    At another level, this can become a highly sophisticated business. There is one bio-tech company in Europe which will ‘create’ microbes to deal with specialized feedstock….they’ve been doing it for beer makers for centuries! Other companies have used high temp. environments to speed up the generation of methane, reducing a 22-30 day cycle down to 3-5 days. The faster you can process the manure slurry, the smaller your plant needs to be. Florida State has a system built around filters and ‘tea bags’ which have the microbial colonies living in them. Cold weather operation is another factor to consider.

    There is a good chance a small digester will be built at Common Ground fair this fall.

    • Patten_Pete

      Wouldn’t it be nice if the BDN had your sort of expertise on staff so that we’d all be more informed.

    • Anonymous

      Inititally, I was thinking this Exeter farm’s idea was great, but then I thought about the issues of fertilizing fields.  On WABI, the farmer said that neighbors weren’t too thrilled about manure being spread on the fields.  Well, hello!, this is Exeter and you live next to a farm!  He is well within his rights to spread manure based on Maine’s two right-to-farm laws.

    • Anonymous

      Your comment is permeated with impressive skill and knowledge on farm energy conversion methods. I read your entire comment (which is the same amount of words as the article….less 5 words) Alex Barber has a fellow devotee in his concentration on agricultural conversion techniques.
        I do have a question for you. Environmental experts have produced research that tells us that cows, goats, sheep and several other animals belonging to a class of animals called ruminants emit methane in the amounts of 100 liters to 200 liters a day (or about 26 gallons to about 53 gallons), while others say it’s up to 500 liters (about 132 gallons) a day. In any case, that’s a lot of methane, an amount comparable to the pollution produced by a car in a day.

      How do these farming managers, who use these conversion systems, address this environmental alert,  produced by global warming experts. (the belching and flatulence of these animals)    

      • Anonymous

         Belching and flatulence are carbon neutral. All of the carbon emitted by the animals comes from plants they consumed. Plants which absorbed carbon from the atmosphere during the growing season. All part of the carbon cycle.

        Net carbon emission comes from the usage of fossil fuels (both as fuel and as fertilizer/chemical feedstock) since this carbon had been locked up underground but is now released into the atmosphere.

        • Anonymous

          Manure naturally deposited on a field decomposes and gives off methane. The methane produced in a bio-gas refinery is ‘captured’ in the gas collection tanks. 

          Methane, as I understand it, needs to reach higher levels of the atmosphere to affect the radiance of heat, much like CO2 does. So if you are interested in mitigating GW, bio-gas digesters are an improvement.

          • Anonymous

            Manure management is increasingly becoming a critical concern within farm management decision making. Managing manure according to a nutrient management plan can reduce fertilizer expenses and enhance soil quality while mitigating potential risks to water quality. Increasingly, however, farmers are being forced to consider “social” as well as environmental and production concerns in developing their manure management plans.

            Non-farm community members, often several generations removed from farming, are buying former farms and moving into the country, seeking pastoral views and fresh air. At the same time, animal agriculture operations are expanding, requiring the installation of manure storage facilities and the application of manure on fields distant from the animal housing facilities. The concurrent urbanization of rural areas and consolidation of livestock farms can result in strained relationships between farm and non-farm neighbors. [Cornell Cooperative Extension]

            Wouldn’t you know? Non-farm members are buying the old farms…moving into the country (farmland) and complaining about the manure smell coming from the working farm. They’re out in farm country complaining about the smell.

    • Anonymous

       In my reading about these systems, it seems power production is a secondary benefit. For many farms, the primary economic benefit derives from dealing with the waste. The disposal of large amounts of animal waste is increasingly difficult. It is difficult and expensive to procure enough land to spread the waste on. Neighbors encroach upon farmlands and complain about the waste and smell. (Even when the farmer’s right to spread is protected by law, the constant complaints can consume a great deal of time and effort to deal with.) After spreading, there is concern about waste running off and contaminating water supplies. And, there is a lot of regulation and paperwork involved in waste management.

      Digestion systems address most of these concerns.

      • Anonymous

        Power production is fraught with problems…those big generators do need tending; esp. when you don’t clean the gas thoroughly or get sulphids in it; besides to sell into the grid makes you a producer and that has a lot of regulations to comply with. Producing electricity for sale is another “job” for a farm manager. The Dairy Co-op in N.W. Vt. was able to get a rate of 24 cents/KW for several of their suppliers….WOW! It’s a lot less here. That should have been put into the article, but given the expense, there must have been enough projected income to pay off the loan, whether from defrayed energy costs or from outright sales.  

        I’ve seen large beef/dairy operations with large generators designed to run on bio-diesel now covered with dust and cobwebs. 

        Waste disposal isn’t as much a problem as getting fresh manure, turned into a slurry using a HOULE  chopper. The spent effluent goes through a separator, which squeezes out solids, that surprisingly, are used for bedding; and a ‘hot’, and a 100 degree f. liquid that is mostly recycled into the slurry tank for each daily batch. 

        What’s left is put into a tank, usually a 270 g. poly tot that can be hoisted to the back of a half ton pickup and directly sprayed onto a field. The organics depend on what goes into the digester.

        This liquid is largely pasteurized, or can be flash pasteurized at 140 degrees for an hour to destroy pathogens that survive 22 days in the digester; and blended with other nutrients depending on the crop. As fertilizer the spent liquid is mostly far superior to conventional manure. 

        Remember this a far more benign, including smell, liquid thant what’s pumped from a conventional manure lagoon.  Larry Meyer at COWSHIT corner near Nobleboro has three large tank trucks to distribute the slurry from his large beef & dairy cattle operation to customers, turf farms, etc. 

        There is a winter spreading ban, especially on pastures that drain into clam flats;  so the farm will have to  store the liquid until spring. This was the undoing of Wolf Neck organic farm in Freeport.

        Ideally, the system is on several levels with the barn on top level, then slurry mixer, then digester, then storage, separation, gas cleaning and power production on the last level.  The reason  is manure slurries are thick and sticky and expensive to pump. Run a half horsepower pump for a few hours and you use a good chunk of the power produced.

        The solids can be partially dried, mixed with sawdust for bedding; OR because they are sticky can be used in wood pellet and briquet factories. MOO DOO pellets are a product from one dairy operation in CT. 

        I thought for a farmer with a wood lot or who provided tree services could mix the solids with wood chips, etc. and make pellets. One US Manuf. is aware of this potential and whose pellet machines—which can be operated by the electricity produced, start at $2k.  Pellets and briquets are a nice storable, salable commodity.

  • Anonymous

    Is this kind of technology available for human waste?  How much energy could municipal waste processing produce?  Is there any government grant money or other resources researching using the technology on a smaller scale?  Something useable in an institutional or residential setting?  In a neighborhood setting?

    Thank you Stonyvale.  The family farm business model is alive in Exeter!

    • Anonymous

      The City of Cincinnati, Ohio uses this process, or similar.  I think it takes a larger population than any of the plants in Maine have.  There are probably others too.

      • Anonymous

        Not really, don’t forget the volume of the digester is 22 times the size of the volume of material that enters it and is partially emptied and recharged 2x daily; so if you start with a gallon of material you wind up with a digester that holds 22 gallons. 

        SINTEX of India has cast systems which are sized by #cows from 1 to six; GREEN GOLD in Ireland has a tank matrix to correspond with fluctuations in herd size. In Costa Rica they use large banana shaped bags in trenches heated by Trombe walls and gravity fed since they are filled at one end—-a surprising twist is they are made in S. Portland!

        You can even compost the spent solids around the digester to maintain heat, SINTEX digesters are partially buried in compost pits. 

    • Anonymous

      Yes, PUXIN in China has a system which has been modified by Warren Wiseman of Oregon with his HESTIA home digester system—  and  .

      There are other ones primarily in China and S.E. Asia designed for small farmsteads.

      I just got an email from Warren which should alert you to the dangers in these bio-gas refineries:

      “A little additional background. If we do not regulate ourselves, then the City of Eugene will do it for us and biogas will be regulated the same as fossil natural gas and need to comply with the same standards, including a pressure-tested iron pipe installation that adds thousands of dollars to the installation.

      We are working together with three departments, the fire department, the building department in charge of building code enforcement and the planning department. The fire marshal expressed concern that firefighters arriving on a scene of a fire could:

      A) shut off gas to a house and still have gas supplying a fire and

      B) If they encountered a compressed storage vessel they would not know how much gas they were dealing with. Where a simple inflatable gas holder is self-evident how much gas is in
      it. While it presents a “blow torch” hazard, it does not present the explosive hazard a pressure vessel does”

      He’s now involved in developing building codes to cover his system.

      In Maine, I believe such a system would have to undergo testing as a septic system; and then another set of tests relevant to the gas, and another for disposing of the solids and the liquids.

  • Anonymous

    FINALLY!  Something that can be used in Washington D.C.

    • Anonymous

      LOL……you are so right. There is a humongous dungpile in Washington DC to “work off.”

    • Anonymous

      Toooo much gas, they would blow the rubbers.

  • Guest

    Very good, it is easier to swallow then the bull they tell us about windpower..

    • Anonymous

      Toronto converted a composing operation to a bio-gas refinery; there are many small ones in Europe, esp. Denmark, Germany, and now Ireland. GREENFINCH was the R&D arm for DEFRA, a regional solid waste disposal agency in UK. This is their current iteration:

  • Liberal Soup N Crackers

    Energy from poop … welcome to the medieval era.

    • Anonymous

      Asian countries collect human feces and use them in their rice paddies and gardens as fertilizer. Unfortunately, it is not difficult to pass along pathogens contained in the human waste to those who consume the rice and garden vegetables.   

      • Anonymous

        Both the shrimp in the paddies and the crabs in the Chesapeake Bay are scavengers; Oysters are natures little toxin removers and are used to cleanse waterways long condemned as polluted. …hate to ruin your dinner plans; but I love crab imperial and look the other way. 

  • Anonymous

    With all the B.S. coming out of congress, this process could end our dependency on foreign oil.

  • Anonymous

    Surely a professional editor can use the word manure in describing manure. Your use of “Poop” obviously caught the eyes of readers who might have trouble with manure, but it  is baby talk, nonetheless,  and ranks with using “baby” the growing choice to describe any and all young animals and vegetables. Have we become so ignorant and lazy we can’t try for a little accuracy in our everyday language?    

  • I grew up right down the road from this farm and the Fogler family and am not surprised at all to see the  innovation taking place at Stonyvale Farm. This speaks so highly to the the leadership of the farm and the strong emphasis on good, smart, and ethical business decisions.
    Congratulations, Stonyvale!

  • Anonymous

    Pipe a line from the Blaine House and they’ll have all the raw material they need. 

  • Excellent, a long time coming. Reminds me of the articles and innovations by L. John Fry and others in the 70’s.2 seconds ago · Like

  • Anonymous

    poop? seriously?

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