Here at one of the largest dairy farms in the country, electricity generated using an endless supply of manure runs the equipment to milk around 30,000 cows three times a day.

For years, the farm has used livestock waste to create enough natural gas to power 10 barns, a cheese factory, a cafe, a gift shop and a maze of child-friendly exhibits about the world of dairy, including a 3D movie theater.

All that, and Fair Oaks Farms was still using only about half of the five million pounds of cow manure it vacuumed up from its barn floors on a daily basis. It burned off the excess methane, wasted energy sacrificed to the sky…

The farm is now turning the extra manure into fuel for its delivery trucks, powering 42 tractor-trailers that make daily runs to raw milk processing plants in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Officials from the federal Department of Energy called the endeavor a “pacesetter” for the dairy industry, and said it was the largest natural gas fleet using agricultural waste to drive this nation’s roads.

As long as we keep milking cows, we never run out of gas,” said Gary Corbett, chief executive of Fair Oaks, which held a ribbon-cutting event for the project this month and opened two fueling stations to the public…

The American Gas Association estimates there are about 1,200 natural gas fueling stations operating across the country, the vast majority of which are supplied by the same pipelines that heat houses…But the growing market is also drawing interest from livestock farmers, landfill management companies and other industries handling methane-rich material that, if harnessed, could create a nearly endless supply of cleaner, safer, sustainable “biogas,” while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

To be sure, no one is pretending that waste-to-energy projects will become a major part of the larger natural gas vehicle market. But supporters say it could provide additional incentive to make biogas systems, which have lagged behind other sustainable energy solutions, more commercially viable.

Partnerships are growing between dairy farmers and NatGas industry providers. They say we’ll be surprised how much they will grow over the next five years.

  1. Dallas says:

    It’s very possible that Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump can power the New York City subway trains.

    • The Monster's Lawyer says:

      I think somebody likes you. I’m not gonna name names but his name starts with ped and ends with ro.

      • Dallas says:

        Yes, pendejo is a closet case and he/she/it is facinated with my intellect and wit.

  2. JS says:

    I wonder if pig excrement can be used? NC has a, ummmm, boatload of pig farms, and the farms’ manure reservoirs can be very nasty to the environment.

    Hey – it worked for Aunty in Beyond Thunderdome.

    (but seriously – I wonder if it would be economical…)

  3. Trex says:

    C’mon, you gotta be shi++in’ me.

  4. Admfubar says:

    this is nothing, government has been powering itelf with bs for years.. and just look at it go! (mainly in circles)

    • FOOL for a day! says:

      Just like the letter O in Obama!

      • Trex says:

        Did I tell you I have a “W” tattooed on each of my butt cheeks? When I bend over it spells “WoW”.

  5. jim g says:

    I call Bull Shot on this one

  6. anonymous Coward says:

    april 1st….

  7. CrankyGeeksFan says:

    Years ago, my neighbor had a lot of sea grasses wash ashore in his canal after a storm. He shoveled them onto his seawall and let them dry in the sun for about 48 hours.

    I agreed to bag the seaweed. After lifting the first shovel-full into a leaf bag, the smell was so strong that I almost passed out. Both of our back yards smelled like a stable as I could smell it from my back door – a distance of 35 yards.

    I always thought that that could be a source of energy.

  8. msbpodcast says:

    I’m becoming lactose intolerant in my dotage so I can produce enough natural gas all by myself.

    I can believe that cow and bullshit would be a powerful source of fertilizer. Look at Washington DC.

  9. Glenn E. says:

    Well I doubt they could get a team of cows to pull the trailer, very far. So they can’t eliminate the “tractor” part. But if they could design a tractor trailer, that gives milk, as well as delivers it. Then they could cut the middle man, or cow. But the tractor itself would have to run on grass, some kind of biomass, or pure ethanol.

    Frankly, I think the food scientist are dragging their feet on this. We should have had a “Mr. Milk” appliance, in every home by now. Just toss in some food scraps. Add water and a package of GMO culture. Push a button. And overnight, a gallon of fresh milk. How hard can it be to reverse engineer a cow’s digestive process? Of course the entire dairy industry would be against this. That’s why I believe there’s foot dragging, going on.

    • The Monster's Lawyer says:

      My mum was a “Mr. Milk” appliance when i was just a baby. What kind of tech are you talkin bout Willis?

  10. sargasso_c says:

    Sidetrack: The waste is still a good fertiliser after methane extraction. But the hormones, antidepressants and antibiotics they pump these animals with would rule it out for growing food with.

  11. Cap'n Kangaroo says:

    “Fair Oaks Farms was still using only about half of the five million pounds of cow manure it vacuumed up from its barn floors on a daily basis”

    On the family farm when I was a child, there was no vacuum; there was a shovel and a wheelbarrow, you shoveled the sh*t and straw into the wheelbarrow and then pushed it out the barn to the manure pile. Then when the pile got too big and you had an empty field, you used the bucket on the tractor to load the manure spreader. The only thing worse was cleaning out the chicken coop.


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