News 1977 views update:Mar 22, 2010

Poultry litter used to heat chicken houses

A prototype furnace that uses poultry litter for fuel was presented to industry representatives by staff at the University of Arkansas (U.S.).

Dr. Tom Costello, an engineer from the university, teamed up with Lynn Dale Systems Inc.. or Harrison and built the prototype. The Costello and his team demonstrated poultry litter biomass furnace, which uses a combination of poultry waste and bedding such as rice hulls or wood chips.


A conventional broiler house in Northwest Arkansas uses roughly 5.000 gallons of propane per year and represents one of the farmer's greatest input cost at roughly U.S. $ 8,000 per house, said Bob Dodson, Lynn Dale System's CEO and president.

The prototype targets a peak output of 200.000 Btu per hour which would measure 50% of the annual heat load and could cut a farmer's propane costs in half, according to projections. The furnace also provides a drier or heat source that keeps the house floor and circulating air's moisture and humidity low.

Other benefits

The unit includes a viable solution for disposal of poultry litter which has been the target of environmental issues in recent years, plus the remaining ash is a 10 to 1 reduction in terms of volume, Costello said. Additionally, the ash contains a highly concentrated phosphorus and potassium content, for which there is a demand in fertilizer products. The ash can also be used as mix in concrete.

The furnace could also serve as an incinerator for dead birds. Jim Green, a commercial grower with 60 houses said he Spends U.S. $ 800 a flock to Incinerate dead birds for a six-house farm with a normal mortality rate.

"With the litter burner, growers can achieve a two-year payback or positive cash flow from day one with a four to five year equipment lease," added Bob Dodson, Lynn Dale's CEO and president. "Making the affordable units is a primary objective." The overall cost has not been released because the final system has not yet been developed.

The retail units are expected to be available in the fall of 2007.


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