From fresh eggs to organic, grass-fed, free-range meat, it seems like the benefits of chickens are exponentially growing. The one drawback of raising chickens, or any livestock, is dealing with chicken droppings. Eco-farmers across the world are countering this drawback by using pyrolysis to transform chicken droppings into fertilizer while reducing CO2 emissions and harvesting biogas during the process.
Pyrolysis is the process of heating raw organic product — animal and agricultural waste — under extreme temperatures without the presence of oxygen; sometimes temperatures reach higher than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Oxygen reacts with the organic dung to produce greenhouse gasses; heating the dung without oxygen keeps CO2 from releasing into the atmosphere. The process takes a few hours and produces a porous, charcoal-like object called biochar, which is used as fertilizer. During the process, the high temperatures cause gasses to emit, which are collected in a series of chambers and used as fuel for households and cars.
The U.S. is one of three countries currently working on harvesting the fuel. Pyrolysis could be handy for the 30,000 chicken farms in the U.S. and the chicken droppings left behind. Farmers would eliminate the daily manure disposal and cash in on a growing green industry.
More about chickens
• Raising chickens isn't just for rural farmers anymore. Read about how urban dwellers are raising chicks in the city – and about the opposition they're facing.
• Make some fried chicken for your next summer picnic. Frying the chicken in an herb crust will give the dish some extra flavor.
• Chicken droppings may make great fertilizer, but it's not the only kind. Check out Natural Home's fertilizer guide and learn how to nourish your garden's soil organically.