Lagoon Cover-up Cover captures odor, methane and cash

October 25, 2009 07:00 PM

Rein Landman knows a good deal when he smells one. The White, S.D., dairy producer recently installed a cover on the first stage of his manure lagoon system. All it cost him was a little piping to redirect rainwater flow and a commitment to keep a vigilant eye on the system.

In return, he'll get a share of the carbon credits captured by the system, most of the gas collected and peace of mind that manure odors are being kept in their place.

This past summer, Landman signed an agreement with Environmental Credit Corp. (ECC) and Environmental Capital Management. The two firms provide system maintenance, financing, carbon credit verification and marketing of those credits.

Manure from Landman's 1,050-cow herd is first run through a solid separator. Fibrous solids are removed because they can crust and interfere with methane gas movement under the cover.

Manure liquids then flow into the first-stage lagoon, a 4-million-gallon pit covering 0.8 acres. This lagoon is covered with a 60-mil, high-density polyethylene cover, which has ultraviolet protectants to give it long life.

Methane generated from the first-stage lagoon is currently flared off and destroyed. Excess liquid from the first stage flows into the second (1.8-acre) lagoon and is land-applied in spring and fall.

Operational since mid-September, the system is producing and flaring off about 28 cu. ft. per minute.

"By next year, we'll have better data points on gas production,” says Jim Jensen, ECC's vice president of business development. "We expect to generate 3 to 3½ metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year from each milk cow, so maybe 3,000 or so carbon credits annually.”

ECC and Environmental Capital Management will retain 85% of the value of those credits, which ranges from $2 to $3 per ton on the carbon futures market to $5 to $10 per ton in private trading. Once the debt on the project is paid for, Landman's share will jump to 25%.

In addition, Landman will get 85% of the value of the gas captured and used. He is looking into using the gas for heating water for the dairy to replace the propane he is currently buying. But that won't likely happen until next year—once he gets a better feel for the actual amount of methane generated by the system.

Bonus content:

More on carbon credits and lagoon covers:

Environmental Credit Corporation

Chicago Climate Exchange

Environmental Fabrics

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