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No, President Bush has not strapped on his lab coat and selected cow-flap-as-bio-fuel as the sole solution to America’s energy problems; but cow manure will help our energy situation in some parts of the country. Dried cow manure is becoming a viable alternative to more emissions-heavy fossil fuels for firing ethanol plants.
The Texas Panhandle town of Hereford lies within a 100 mile radius of over 1 million head of cattle and over 100 thousand dairy cows which translates to plenty of cow crap creating potential. Vast piles of manure are often left to dry via solar energy, providing a pungent and aromatic testament to its energy rich capabilities.
Texas headquartered Panda Energy began construction of a $120 million ethanol plant on a 380-acre site in Hereford in 2005, and is expected to be in full production in the second half of 2007. Projected energy savings are equivalent to 1,000 barrels of oil per day with transportation costs greatly reduced due to the plant’s close physical proximity to both the manure resource, as well as corn and sorghum supplies. Cattle farmers will donate to the plant their festering manure to help reduce the carting, storage and disposal costs of the constantly accruing stool. The Hereford plant utilizes a bubbling bed fluidized gasifier that converts cattle manure and cotton gin waste into clean-burning bio-gas to power the plant. To take advantage of another waste resource Panda is using gray water from the city wastewater facility.
Upon completion, the Hereford plant will be the largest biomass-fueled ethanol refinery in the U.S.
Not unlike a celebrity buying a carbon offset, low emissions manure-fuel will help reduce the cow’s carbon footprint by offsetting its methane heavy propensity for flatulence.
State Energy Conservation Office of Texas