Abating Particulate Matter Emissions From On-Farm Poultry Litter-Fueled Energy Systems


Approximately, 11% of the poultry operations in the United States are in the five-state region of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed (Bay), representing 7,000 family farms and generating about $1.1B in revenues. The Bay states have identified a variety of manure management practices and programs to help meet the nutrient reduction targets set in the Bay-Total Maximum Daily Load plan. Poultry-litter fueled on-farm thermal conversion processes (PL-TCP) can be used to generate renewable thermal energy for heating poultry houses. Additionally, PL-TCP can potentially enhance nutrient management alternatives by concentrating the phosphorus- and potassium-rich ash co-products to enable reaching more distant markets more efficiently. However, due to PL fuel properties, scale- and setting-appropriate emission abatement has been a challenge for on-farm PL-TCP.

What Did We Do

This project assessed total particulate matter (TPM) emissions for two PL-TCP systems on two poultry farms, S1 and S2, and at a technology provider facility (S3). S1 is located in Pennsylvania on a 60-acre farm with two 24,000 sq. ft poultry houses. The farm raises certified-organic broilers on approximately six-week flock cycles resulting in an average of five flock cycles per year per house. The biomass boiler and heat distribution systems were installed by Total Energy Solutions (TES) to provide heating for two poultry houses and an adjacent mechanical shop in 2012. The system specified by TES uses a biomass boiler (model CGS-225 and rated at 1.5 MMBtu/hr) marketed through Triple Green Products (TGP), Morris, Manitoba. S2 is also located on a poultry farm in Pennsylvania with three 24,000 square foot poultry houses for antibiotic free broilers, with an average of six-and-a-half flock cycles per year per house. In 2015, the farmer installed two Bio-Burner BB-500 heating units from LEI Products, a firm now doing business as OrganiLock, to heat two of the poultry houses. The heating units are each rated 0.5 MMBtu/hr and were installed in a mechanical room located between two poultry houses. S3 is located at the OrganiLock corporate headquarters in Kentucky where a bioenergy unit, similar to that at S2, is used for testing purposes.

The TPM emissions were assessed using EPA source testing methods. Seventy-eight emission tests were completed for 15 different system configurations. First, we established the baseline TPM emissions and shared this information with collaborating technology providers to inform their modifications to the TPM-emission abatement control systems to meet the stated project TPM reduction goal of at least 70%. Base case emission factors were estimated as 3.851 and 2.885 TPM-lb/MMBtu for S1 and S2, respectively. Abatement system upgrades consisted of cyclones with a bag filter system at S1, a wet scrubber at S2, and filtration media at S3. Three levels of a fuel additive were used during seven source emission tests in the bioenergy unit at S3. The fuel additive consisted of an aluminosilicate mineral product and dosed with the poultry litter fuel at 2%, 5%, and 10%, by weight (w.b.). Additionally, farmers were interviewed to share their experiences operating the on-farm bioenergy units for use in broader outreach dissemination.

What Have We Learned

The abated emission factor for the S1 system was 0.187 TPM-lb/MMBtu, a 95% reduction relative to the base case. While the abated emission factor for the S2 system was 1.887 TPM-lb/MMBtu, a 35% reduction relative to the base case. The use of the mineral additive at S3 at a 10% fuel mix reduced the emission factor for that system from 2.885 to 1.098 TPM-lb/MMBtu, a 61% reduction. Three educational videos were developed from recorded farmer interviews to document and share actual experiences operating these on-farm bioenergy systems. The intent of these videos is to help inform potential future adopters of these technologies on the first-hand operational experiences shared by the technology host farmers managing these on-farm poultry little-to-energy technologies.

Future Plans

Future areas of work include: develop a techno-economic assessment to understand the economic viability of fully-abated systems, including farmer/service provider time requirements and to compare to other nutrient and energy management strategies; optimize abatement systems to evaluate options for lower capex/opex abatement strategies; evaluate fuel additives to replicate emission reductions and assess impacts to broader system performance; benchmark fuel properties to characterize the range of highly variable PL more suitable for thermal conversion processes; and assess the key factors for broader adoption.


John Ignosh, Extension Specialist, Dep. Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, Harrisonburg, VA, USA

Additional Authors
Jactone Ogejo, Associate Professor & Extension Specialist, Dep. Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA

Additional Information



This summary is based on work supported by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under #69-2037-18-006

Videos, Slideshows and other Media

1. https://youtu.be/tQAirjhxAs4

2. https://cdnapisec.kaltura.com/html5/html5lib/v2.75.3/mwEmbedFrame.php/p/2375811/uiconf_id/41950442/entry_id/1_3nrpmniy?wid=_2375811&iframeembed=true&playerId=kaltura_player&entry_id=1_3nrpmniy&flashvars[streamerType]=auto&flashvars[localizationCode]=en&flashvars[leadWithHTML5]=true&flashvars[sideBarContainer.plugin]=true&flashvars[sideBarContainer.position]=left&flashvars[sideBarContainer.clickToClose]=true&flashvars[chapters.plugin]=true&flashvars[chapters.layout]=vertical&flashvars[chapters.thumbnailRotator]=false&flashvars[streamSelector.plugin]=true&flashvars[EmbedPlayer.SpinnerTarget]=videoHolder&flashvars[dualScreen.plugin]=true&flashvars[hotspots.plugin]=1&flashvars[Kaltura.addCrossoriginToIframe]=true&&wid=1_1q37mw14#

3. https://cdnapisec.kaltura.com/html5/html5lib/v2.75.3/mwEmbedFrame.php/p/2375811/uiconf_id/41950442/entry_id/1_cdnhswma?wid=_2375811&iframeembed=true&playerId=kaltura_player&entry_id=1_cdnhswma&flashvars[streamerType]=auto&flashvars[localizationCode]=en&flashvars[leadWithHTML5]=true&flashvars[sideBarContainer.plugin]=true&flashvars[sideBarContainer.position]=left&flashvars[sideBarContainer.clickToClose]=true&flashvars[chapters.plugin]=true&flashvars[chapters.layout]=vertical&flashvars[chapters.thumbnailRotator]=false&flashvars[streamSelector.plugin]=true&flashvars[EmbedPlayer.SpinnerTarget]=videoHolder&flashvars[dualScreen.plugin]=true&flashvars[hotspots.plugin]=1&flashvars[Kaltura.addCrossoriginToIframe]=true&&wid=1_mets5wc5#


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