Why did the chicken cross the road? In the state of Maryland, it soon will be to help produce biogas thanks to a recently signed agreement.
Anaerobic digester developer AgEnergy USA and Perdue Farms, a major chicken processing company based in Salisbury, Md., recently signed a letter of intent for a project that will use poultry waste to develop biogas while reducing nitrogen and phosphorous in the state of Maryland.
The new concept, named the Clean Bay Biogas Project, is a large complete mix, anaerobic digester system to be located on the eastern shore of Maryland, according to Jim Potter, president of AgEnergy USA. An exact location has not yet been established.
“The project will include more than 20MG of bio-reactor capacity and front-end and back nutrient management and water treatment systems,” he says. “Ammonia toxicity will be managed through feedstock and substrate dilution.”
Perdue Farms will supply 100 percent of the feedstock for the facility, including poultry waste and other organic materials. It is projected that the facility will process up to 200,000 tons of poultry waste per year.
“Environmentally, this project will provide an alternative to land application for a significant amount of poultry litter, eliminating the risk of any portion of the nitrogen or phosphorous in this litter from finding its way into the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This project can play an important role in Maryland agriculture as the new Phosphorus Management Tool regulation is implemented,” Perdue Farms Vice President of Environmental Sustainability Steve Schwalb said in a statement.
“We are excited about the technology and expertise that AgEnergy brings to this project and its potential to efficiently produce renewable energy from poultry litter and other organic materials,” Schwalb said.
In 2001, Perdue Farms established a subsidiary, Perdue AgriRecycle, which converts poultry litter to a pasteurized, pelletized organic fertilizer. Through Perdue AgriRecycle, Perdue Farms is the largest buyer of poultry waste in Maryland. In the agreement with AgEnergy USA, Perdue will have the option to market fertilizer co-products that may be produced while processing the waste.
Based in Hampton, New Hampshire, AgEnergy USA is a developer of large anaerobic digester projects and has a 26-year history of developing financing and constructing energy infrastructure projects in the U.S. and abroad. Potter says the state of Maryland will benefit from the Clean Bay Biogas Project.
“The project will provide significant benefits to the State of Maryland by reducing nitrogen and phosphorous,” he says. “The state’s own Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay estimates that it will cost $11.9 billion through 2025. The AgEnergy Project will result in removal of nitrogen and phosphorous reducing the WIP compliance costs by nearly $5 billion.”
Perdue Farms has experience in a variety of alternative and renewable energy projects, sourcing feedstock and/or partnering with other companies on biodiesel, ethanol, solar and biomass projects.
For the past six years, a team has conducted a thorough review of available technologies to convert poultry litter to energy, meeting with more than 50 companies and evaluating multiple technology categories in the course of its review. Also, Perdue currently has two biomass boiler operations (using wood, peanut hulls and cotton gin waste) in North Carolina, according to a statement.