Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pittsylvania County planners to hear public input on manure converter

By Charles Wilborn

Published: August 5, 2009

CHATHAM — The Pittsylvania County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing tonight to determine whether to recommend that the Board of Supervisors amend the county’s ordinance to allow anaerobic digesters as a special use in an Agricultural District. The systems are used to convert manure into energy and other products.

The hearing will take place at 7 p.m. in the General District Courtroom in Chatham.

If the commission approves the idea, the proposal would then go before the Board of Supervisors for an-other public hearing.

The owners of Van Der Hyde Dairy plan to use an anaerobic digester to process manure from their 950 cows and expand use of its byproduct to make electricity. The digester, introduced in Wisconsin in 2001 and used at 40 sites in the United States, recovers methane from animal waste through anaerobic — or airless — digestion. The technology processes the waste to produce electricity, bedding and liquid fertilizer. It also produces waste heat, which can be put to use to replace hot-water production and used for in-floor heating.

Other benefits from the digester include production of higher-quality cow bedding, reduced nitrogen and phosphorous levels, waste-odor reduction and improved energy distribution in rural areas. The machine breaks down fatty-acid levels in waste to get rid of odor.

The Van Der Hydes are seeking funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and hope federal stimulus money will help pay for it. Construction would take about nine months.

The anaerobic digester would be 200 feet long, 72 feet wide and 16 feet deep, and would process waste in 21-day cycles.

Van Der Hyde Dairy has 23 employees and includes 750 acres. It produces 8,400 gallons of milk per day.

No comments: