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In North Carolina, Hog Waste Is Becoming A Streamlined Fuel Source

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Casey Collins, Duke University energy manager, inspects a boiler at the West Campus Steam Plant. Soon, these boilers will run on swine biogas instead of natural gas. James Morrison/WUNC hide caption

toggle caption James Morrison/WUNC

In late March, a project in eastern North Carolina revealed the potential to turn every hog farm in the state into a source of renewable natural gas, or what’s known as swine biogas.

Biogas typically refers to methane created by the breakdown of organic matter. It can be made from food scraps, decomposing plants and animal waste. Swine biogas is methane that comes from hog waste.

Most people think the purpose of biogas is to create green fuel, but that’s actually the byproduct. The main purpose of creating biogas is to destroy methane and earn valuable carbon offset credits — methane is a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

The Optima KV Project has the potential to do both — destroy methane and create enough renewable natural gas to power the equivalent of 1,000 homes for a year.

Currently, hog farms that make biogas also turn it into electricity onsite

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