Chicken Litter Project & Potential of TP Sequestration

Tom Miles

Chicken Litter Project & Potential of TP Sequestration
Erich J. Knight, Shenandoah Gardens, February 6, 2007

A professor at Virginia Tech will be starting a pilot project at a poultry farm near me next month.


Please contact me if any of you are interested in joining me on a field trip to Dayton VA. to see Dr. Foster A Agblevor's chicken litter pyrolysis project.

I will set a date dependent upon the folks who contact me.
If any need a place to stay I've got plenty of room.
I will post more specs on Foster's project as I get them.

I feel like Dorothy in OZ,,,,,,,,, Who knew after all my searching's that this would fall into my own back yard.......there IS no place like home!

I have also made contacts and generated interest with several people at the Center for Innovative Science and Technology CISAT and James Madison University. Primary among these people is Dr. Wayne Teel who tells me he has several students wanting to do projects in this area.

Chicken litter is a big management problem in the Shenandoah Valley and consequently the Chesapeake Bay.

The reason TP has elicited such interest in the Agricultural / horticultural side of it's benefits is this one static:

1 gram of charcoal cooked to 650 C has a surface area of 400 m2, now for conversion fun;

One ton of charcoal has a surface area of 400,000 Acres!! which is equal to 625 square miles!!

Now at a field application rate of 2 lbs/sq ft (which equals 1000 sq ft/ton) or 43 tons/acre, this yields 26,000 Sq miles of surface area per Acre. (Virginia is 39,594 sq. miles)

What this suggest to me is a potential of sequestering virgin forest amounts of carbon just in the soil alone, without counting the forest on top.

To take just one fairly representative example, in the classic Rothampstead experiments in England where arable land was allowed to revert to deciduous temperate woodland, soil organic carbon increased 300-400% from around 20 t/ha to 60-80 t/ha (or about 30-40 tons per acre) in less than a century (Jenkinson & Rayner 1977). The rapidity with which organic carbon can build up in soils is also indicated by examples of buried steppe soils formed during short-lived interstadial phases in Russia and Ukraine. Even though such warm, relatively moist phases usually lasted only a few hundred years, and started out from the skeletal loess desert/semi-desert soils of glacial conditions (with which they are inter-leaved), these buried steppe soils have all the rich organic content of a present-day chernozem soil that has had many thousands of years to build up its carbon (E. Zelikson, Russian Academy of Sciences, pers. comm., May 1994). Quaternary carbon storage in global ecosystems

Next week:
My look into the issue of Mercury and Ammonia Scrubbing technology of Coal fired power plant CO2 emissions.


Erich J. Knight
Shenandoah Gardens
(540) 289-9750

Agricultural byproducts harvested to cultivate a greener Commonwealth
"The Conversion of Poultry Litter to Value-Added Resources by Pyrolysis" - Dr. Foster Agblevor, Associate Professor, Virginia Tech to be presented at:
Water Solutions forum: Innovative Environmental Technologies Symposium February 22, 2007, Harrisonburg, VA

Agblevor's pyrolysis work led to high charcoal yields (~40%):
Improving the Quality of Bio-Oils from Poultry Litter Pyrolysis
Foster Agblevor and Sueng-Soo Kim

Disposal of poultry litter is becoming a major problem in the USA poultry industry because of environmental pressures and health concerns. However, poultry litter can be potentially converted into bio-oils, gas, and fertilizer. We investigated the fast pyrolysis of poultry litter into bio-oils and gaseous products. The bio-oil yields were relatively low (20 to 30%) compared to wood derived bio-oils and they had very high viscosities compared to wood and herbaceous bio-oils. The viscosity of the bio-oils were considerably reduced when the poultry litter was mixed with other feedstocks and co-pyrolized. The char yields were extremely high (>40%) compared to woody and herbaceous biomass. The high char yields were attributed to the high ash content of this feedstock. The char product had high concentrations of potassium, phosphorous, calcium, and nitrogen. The gaseous products yields were also very high.

Pyrolysis under catalytic conditions increased the gas yields considerably. Thus, pyrolysis technology can be used to dispose of poultry litter and simultaneously produce high-value products, and fuels.