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Turkey excrement could replace coal as a renewable energy source

Treated excrement from turkeys may be used for heat and electricity generation.
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Treated excrement from turkeys may be used as a fuel for heat and electricity generation, a new Israeli study has found.

Treated excrement from turkeys may be used as a fuel for heat and electricity generation, a new Israeli study has found.

Treated excrement from turkeys may be used as a fuel for heat and electricity generation, a new Israeli study has found. A new research shows that turkey excrement may be a major alternative energy resource that could be used as combustible biomass fuel.

According to a study published in Elsevier's journal Applied Energy, researchers at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel indicated that the waste fuel could one day replace up to 10 percent of coal used in generating electricity.

Waste fuel could one day replace up to 10 percent of coal used in generating electricity.

“Environmentally safe disposal of poultry excrement has become a significant problem,” said the researchers 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.”

Converting poultry waste to solid fuel, a less resource-intensive, renewable energy source.

Converting poultry waste to solid fuel, a less resource-intensive, renewable energy source.

Researchers evaluated two biofuel types to determine which is the more efficient poultry waste solid fuel. They compared the production, combustion and gas emissions of biochar, which is produced by slow heating of the biomass at a temperature of 450 degrees Celsius in an oxygen-free furnace with hydrochar. 

Hydrochar is produced by heating wet biomass to a much lower temperature of up to 250 degrees Celsius under pressure using a process called hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC). HTC mimics natural coal formation within several hours.

“We found that poultry waste processed as hydrochar produced 24 per cent higher net energy generation,” said Amit Gross from the BGU. “Poultry waste hydrochar generates heat at high temperatures and combusts in a similar manner to coal, an important factor in replacing it as renewable energy source,” he said.

Further, the research also revealed a noteworthy reduction in emissions of methane (CH₄) and ammonia (NH₃) and an increase of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide as a result of the HTC process being conducted at higher temperatures.

“This investigation helped in bridging the gap between hydrochar being considered as a potential energy source toward the development of an alternative renewable fuel,” Gross said. “Our findings could help significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation and agricultural wastes.”