Tuesday, February 21, 2017

the power of pig poop



The last time that our family participated in the RAGBRAI was in July of 2011, just before our move to Arizona. If you would like to read more about that trip, just click on the link below: 

I thought about that trip just the other day when I came across a key chain that had a little pink pig attached to it, which led to the title shown at the top of this page.

As I passed some riders on a steep decline on the 2nd day of the ride, I passed by an adjacent large hog farm, which literally took my breath away. By coincidence, I had met a couple from St. Louis who had created a way to change hog slurry into a replacement for foreign oil. One of the end products they had developed was asphalt, and numerous other companies around the country have also developed similar procedures. The liquid residue from 10,000 hogs can produce 1000 gallons of oil a day, and there are an estimated 15,000.000 hogs living in the state. Those same 10,000 hogs, by the way, produce as much waste as a town of 25,000 people. The slurry ponds used to hold pig waste can be enormous, and can be as large as 4 football fields. To get an idea how really big they are, come join me on a flight over a Smithfield Farms hog facility: 

 To put that in a more meaningful perspective, the hogs in Iowa produce as much sewage as all of the people in the state of California, which had 38.8 million people in 2014.

In addition to oil and asphalt, the hog slurry (when treated) can be turned into natural gas and other fuels, and can also be used as fertilizer. In addition, the converted substance can also be used to generate electricity.

By using the hog slurry for other uses, the overpowering odor of methane gas from the enormous slurry ponds can be greatly reduced, and the reduction in waste can also help to maintain the quality of drinking water in underground aquifers. 

There is an old saying, of course, is that if you have lemons, you make lemonade. If you have poop, you have to be a lot more creative.