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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Leetown, West Virginia » Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #377131

Research Project: Support the Viability and Expansion of Land-Based Closed-Containment Aquaculture

Location: Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture Research

Title: Fluidized bed combustion of poultry litter at farm-scale: Environmental impacts using a life cycle approach

item CHOUDHURY, ABHINAV - Freshwater Institute
item FELTON, GARY - University Of Maryland
item MOYLE, JONATHAN - University Of Maryland
item LANSING, STEPHANIE - University Of Maryland

Submitted to: Journal of Cleaner Production
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/13/2020
Publication Date: 9/18/2020
Citation: Choudhury, A., Felton, G., Moyle, J., Lansing, S. 2020. Fluidized bed combustion of poultry litter at farm-scale: Environmental impacts using a life cycle approach. Journal of Cleaner Production. 276:124231.

Interpretive Summary: Direct spreading of poultry litter on agricultural farms located on the eastern shore in the state of Maryland has resulted in leaching of nutrients from these soils and contributed to the eutrophication of the Chesapeake Bay.  Fluidized bed combustion technology can be used to produce heat and produce electricity from poultry litter, either by itself or mixed with other domestic or industrial wastes, due to its ability to handle low-grade fuels. This study quantified the use of poultry litter to replace liquid propane gas use for heating poultry houses and the benefits of electricity production from this technology.  Analysis of the fluidized bed combustion system in this study showed net environmental gains from combusting poultry litter for heating poultry houses and producing renewable electricity when compared to liquid propane gas and natural gas.

Technical Abstract: Combustion can concentrate phosphorus (P) from poultry litter into an ash product that is easier to transport for land application. This was the first life cycle assessment (LCA) study to investigate the efficacy and sustainability of a fluidized bed combustion (FBC) system using poultry litter to heat poultry houses and produce electricity in the United States to replace liquid propane gas (LPG) and natural gas (NG) use. The ‘Baseline scenario’ used results from a 16-month FBC monitoring study, and an ‘Improved scenario’ based on an increased biomass feed rate (0.246 tons/h), increased run-time (6,720 h/y), and net positive electricity production. In the Baseline scenario, climate change potential was 32% and 44% lower than use of LPG and NG, respectively, for poultry house heating, but the low electricity production from the FBC system resulted in net electricity import and lower sustainability compared to LPG use in 12 of the 18 impact categories. The Improved scenario had 48 – 98% less environmental impacts than the Baseline scenario in the 18 categories. The sensitivity analysis showed that a 10% change in the electricity input for FBC operation resulted in the highest average change (4.8%) in the 18 impact categories, indicating the necessity of a net positive electrical energy output from the FBC unit for increased sustainability. The results also highlighted the impact of the replacement heating fuel type, as replacing NG through poultry litter combustion had a greater impact than replacement of LPG.