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An economic assessment of algal turf scrubber technology for treatment of dairy manure effluent
Controlling the input of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) from dairies and other livestock operations into the surrounding air- and water-sheds poses both technical and economic challenges to the agricultural community. The purpose of this paper is to assess the economics of algal turf scrubber treatment technology at the farm-scale for a hypothetical 1000-cow dairy. Costs were developed for farms with and without anaerobic pretreatment. The majority of capital costs were due to land preparation, installation of liner material, and engineering fees. The majority of operational costs were due to energy requirements for biomass drying, pumping water, and repayment of capital investment. On farms using anaerobic pretreatment, waste heat from burning of biogas could be used to offset the energy requirements of biomass drying. In addition, biogas combustion exhaust gas could then be recycled back to the algal system to supply dissolved inorganic carbon for optimal algal production and pH control. Under the best case (algal system coupled with anaerobic digestion pretreatment), the yearly operational costs per cow, per kg N, per kg P, and per kg of dried biomass were $454, $6.20, $31.10, and $0.70, respectively. Without anaerobic digestion pretreatment, the yearly operational costs were 36% higher, amounting to $631 per cow, $8.70 per kg N, $43.20 per kg P, and $0.97 per kg of dried biomass. For perspective, a recent survey of 36 Maryland dairy farms found long-term annual profits of about $500 per cow. As no market currently exists for manure grown algal biomass, our cost analysis does not include any value of the biomass generated during manure treatment. In addition, there are a variety of potential uses for the algal biomass from manure treatment that could defray treatment costs. Future opportunities for dairies to participate in nutrient trading approaches to watershed nutrient management may also become important.
animal manure management
Ecological engineering 2006 July, v. 26, issue 4
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
Works produced by employees of the U.S. Government as part of their official duties are not copyrighted within the U.S. The content of this document is not copyrighted.
Agricultural Research Service
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