Seven hundred million pigs produce a lot of poo.
China’s love of pork presents a mountain of a problem for the environment, 1.4 billion tonnes of pig poo a year to be precise, but an Australian company believes it has part of the answer.
Why not turn the pig poo into power?
Using a bioreactor called “PooCareTM” and other technology, the pig manure is converted into biofuel for cooking and heating while the residual goes to farmers as nutrient-rich fertilizers.
“The benefits are energy and fuel for farmers as well as preventing further contamination of the environment,” said Ravi Naidu, chief scientist at CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE), a South Australian-based firm involved in drawing up the technology.
“So it’s really a green technology from that perspective,” Naidu, a University of South Australia professor, said.
The process involves a bioreactor 30m long, 10m high and 4m wide. It is set below ground and waste is fed through it slowly at a pre-determined temperature.
This converts solid waste into a biogas that is then pumped through gas tanks that can be delivered to the local community. The entire process takes about a month, with the first biogenerator already running at a farm in Wuhan, central China.
China has an estimated 700 million pigs, producing some two-thirds of the meat consumed there annually, so the scale of the problem cannot be underestimated.
Only one tenth of pig waste is used now as manure. It is estimated the nutrients lost in the waste of one pig alone are worth about A$50 (US$52) per year. There is a vast disparity in rural and urban incomes with farmers earning around US$75 per month.