Google backs project to turn hog poop into power
Published Monday, September 12, 2011 7:03PM EDT
YADKINVILLE - Google Inc. is investing in a project to turn hog poop into power.
Duke University and Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) have built a plant that captures methane gas from a hog finishing operation in North Carolina, and burns enough of it to power 35 homes a year.
The US$1.2-million prototype system was built at Loyd Ray Farms, a 9,000-head hog finishing operation northwest of Yadkinville, N.C.
In a statement, the university says Google is covering some of the costs in exchange for a share of the project's carbon offsets, which are credits for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Internet giant (Nasdaq:GOOG) is working ot make its operations carbon-neutral, and invests in a variety of projects to offset its emissions.
"It is exciting to see the system up and running, and even more exciting that it's getting recognized by Google," said Tatjana Vujic, director of the university's Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative.
"Completing this full-scale system and getting it operational is a great testament to its design and the foresight of all of its various supporters."
Open lagoons full of hog waste are a major source of methane gas, which -- pound for pound -- is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
The university says its system prevents the equivalent of 5,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere every year -- the same as taking 900 cars off the road.