Farms around the world are embracing sustainable practices and circular economy models that can help fuel and fund their farming as a part of the business. In this Flipside Science video from the California Academy of Sciences, Spurgeon and Darrah visit California’s Straus Family Creamery. The farm’s methane digesting technology turns cow poop into electricity that fuels the entire farm and their electric vehicle. Excess energy is returned to the grid for use by their neighbors:

Twice a day, the barns are flushed clean with recycled water, including water that has been recycled from the creamery. Manure from the barn is also scraped by tractor into a holding pond. From there, it goes through a separator, which separates solids from liquids. The solids are composted and the liquids are piped into a second pond that is covered with an enormous tarp. Under the tarp, the liquid manure is transformed by bacteria, through the process of anaerobic digestion. The result of this sustainable practice is renewable energy in the form of methane gas, carbon dioxide and a small amount of hydrogen sulfite.

The tarp that covers the pond captures the gas. It is then pumped to a combustion engine where it fuels a generator and creates electricity. The heat created in the process is used to heat water for the dairy. This 180-degree Fahrenheit water is used to clean barns.

When methane emissions are used, they aren’t released into the atmosphere where they contribute to our changing climate. Learn more at CalAcademy, at Straus, and at PBS Learning Media.

Explore more videos about sustainable ideas, including solar panel walls that can recycle & heat greywater, turning waste to nutrient-rich soil, turning human waste into drinking water, keeping barn owls for pest control, opening tech-savvy hydroponic urban farms, and creating more green roofs in big cities.

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