Small Streams


Manufacturing in Pennsylvania
December 10, 2007, 10:30 am
Filed under: eutechnics, technology

Gary Rotstein covers a matter of great importance in today’s “The Morning File,” what to do with all the cow manure that’s lying around Crawford County. According to the article, a dairy farm there got $600,000 from the state to install an anaerobic digester to harvest the methane from the farm’s cow manure. Apparently, there’s a lot of it, 1,400 cows worth.  The article was partly titled “Bessie could be our ticket to energy independence.” But in a farm with 1,400 cows, I doubt they spend the time naming the cows. So Bessie is probably named “Cow #781.” The farm is shooting to produce around 250,000 kilowatt hours per month, or about 500 times what a house like ours uses. If the P-G’s figure and my calculations are correct, the Bortnick farm will produce about $25,000 worth of electricity per month. You have to wonder why the state is subsidizing a factory farm for a nickel a person. But you can consider about three factors: containment of smell, reduction in use of fossil fuels, and its worth for demonstration purposes. If we could show that you can run 5oo households of electricity off 1,400 cows, why can’t we run 300,000 households (nearly one-twentieth of the population) on half a million cows.  Of course, the opportunities for employment are significant, too. We probably need about a thousand laborers and engineers to operate all the digesters. 

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