Convert poultry litter into bio-oil, providing an economical disposal system
while reducing environmental effects and biosecurity issues, is on the
Associate professor of biological systems engineering, Foster Agblevor, is
leading a team of researchers in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at
Virginia Tech, developing transportable pyrolysis units that will convert
poultry litter into bio-oil.
Agblevor, together with poultry growers, are testing technology that would
convert poultry litter to three value-added byproducts - pyrodiesel (bio-oil),
producer gas, and fertilizer.
The pyrolysis unit heats the litter until it vaporises. The vapour is
condensed to produce the bio-oil, and a slow release fertilizer is recovered
from the reactor. The gas can then be used to operate the pyrolysis unit, making
it a self-sufficient system.
"The self-contained transportable pyrolsis unit will allow poultry
producers to process the litter on site," Agblevor said. "In addition, the
thermochemical process destroys the microorganisms reducing the likelihood of
the transmission of disease to other locations."
Poultry litter from broiler chickens and turkeys and bedding materials were
converted into bio-oils in a fast pyrolysis fluidised bed reactor.
According to Agblevor, bio-oil yields ranged from 30-50% by weight,
depending on the age and the bedding content. Bedding material that was mostly
hardwood shavings yielded bio-oil as high as 62% by weight. The higher heating
value of the poultry litter bio-oil ranged from 26-29 mega joules per kg, while
bio-oil from bedding material was only 24 mega joules per kg.
"The type of poultry litter used will affect the amount and quality of the
bio-oil produced and ultimately will impact the producer's profitability.
Finding the right set of conditions for the poultry litter is key to the
adaptation of this technology," Agblevor said.
This research is part of a concentrated effort by Virginia Tech
researchers, Virginia Cooperative Extension specialists and agents, conservation
organizations, state agencies, and private industry. The research is being
funded by a $1 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's
Chesapeake Bay Targeted Watershed Program.