May 6th, 2013
CAFOs – Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations
Among environmentalists it is a derogatory term. There is probably some justification in the perception. As an engineer and business owner, though, I like to find solutions to problems and not just complain about issues. It mainly means a farm that keeps the animals close together for efficient operation. One can feed them more easily and you do not have to chase them down to slaughter them. If chickens, you just automate the process of getting eggs and making money.
The CAFOs are not liked by environmentalists. There are issues with regard to the highly concentrated waste that comes from the animals which is overly rich and sometimes laced with antibiotics that can harm the environment. This concentrated waste is sometimes just held in pools and/or spread on fields for fertilizer only to run off into streams. There are also disease issues in keeping the animals so close together (hence the need for the antibiotics). And some feel that it is not humane. I will leave my personal feelings aside on that since it will not change much anyway.
As an engineer I like to look for solutions that solve multiple problems. Recently I was looking at this problem. There are many solutions out there but the one that seemed to surface was a system to digest the waste and take the methane off. The processed waste is then better for the fields and the methane can be sold or used for power generation to reduce the electric bill for the farm. It seems like a good idea and there are some places implementing it right now. It is not a new concept and some farmers (mainly in the past) lived over their animal slurry pits and took the gas off for cooking.
Recently I was looking into mentoring some electrical engineering students to automate such a process just as a philanthropic endeavor. The students seemed uninterested as did investors. That is sad as it would seem to solve two problems.
Here are some references:
Ronald Kollman – RF Hardware Designer and President of Haynes-Bent, Inc.
Haynes-Bent, Inc. – Radiofrequency (RF) hardware design, EMC/EMI analysis and 3D Electromagnetic simulation. We also provide Technology advise for investors and executives.
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