Yes folks, the good people of Ontario have worked out a way to tap the energy in that terror of the global warming scene, the noble cow. The Stantons of Ontario are third generation farmers. In the past they’ve used the poop from their 750 cattle produce every year in the traditional fashion: They spread it on the land for fertilizer. But the neighbors complained about the stink, and everyone in town worried about ground water pollution. Then Laurie Stanton hatched a new plan: why not tap the methane cow poop emits and turn it into electricity? They implemented the system detailed in the illustration from the Globe and Mail (click on the image to make it bigger and legible) to move the poop from the barn to the power generation turbine. Each cow can keep three 50W bulb constantly illuminated. This year the farm will connect the system to the Ontario electric grid and power about 800 homes.
As any vegetarian will happily tell you, cows are really bad for the environment. Industrially produced beef is produced on giant cattle farms that get tons of corn shipped to them every day (with attendant emissions), and the finished beef gets trucked all over the place too. In between, the cows are producing ridiculous quantities of methane, an even worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. One gram of methane is equivalent to 23 grams of carbon when it comes to global warming. Burning a methane molecule does produce one carbon dioxide molecule in the end, but you get the attendant energy, and it’s considered cleaner than burning coal or oil.
Lest you fear Americans are missing out on the poop-power phenomenon, a farm in Riverdale, California has set up a similar system, but instead of producing the power directly, they’re pumping the gas into a nearby Pacific Gas & Electric natural gas line.
One thing I think we can all agree on: It’s been far too long since Poop Day. Bring on your poo-related news!