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:
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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.