Professional Engineers Of North Carolina

FALL 2014

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14 the Professional Engineer Fall 2014 N orth Carolina is continually recognized as one of the most desirable states in which to live and work. Our state's pleasing climate and growing economy have continued to attract new businesses and residents. In fact, North Carolina reportedly has the second-highest citizen retention rate in the country. To fuel modern standards of living, our growing population demands more resources — often referred to as the water, energy and food security nexus. More people means more need for food; and more food means more organic wastes generated for our state to manage. More need for food also means that we must fnd ways to support and sustain our state's food production and processing sectors. Although we have become known for many great things, North Carolina historically has been a state of agriculture, with these activities being the largest contributor to our economy. North Carolina places second in the United States in the production of pigs and turkeys, and it ranks fourth in the production of broiler chickens. Tat's a lot of food — and its production generates a lot of organic wastes. Conventionally, most in our state have considered these animal manures a waste to be disposed. More people are beginning to under- stand that these manures are actually resources capable of supplying energy, nutrients and other valuable coproducts. However, this realization is not coming very quickly. According to sources such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States Depart- ment of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the organic waste resources in North Carolina — stemming from municipal wastes (solid waste and sewage) and agriculture (animal manures) — are among the richest in the nation. Technologies and processes are emerging that will aid in harvesting the energy value from crop residues, food waste and crops grown specifcally for energy use, such as switchgrass. Couple these innovations with our existing resources, and a tremendous opportunity for North Carolinians emerges to produce infnitely renewable energy that also provides improvements in the air and water quality impacts stemming from our population growth and farming activities. (See U.S. map.) Anaerobic digestion is one common approach to harvesting the energy content of these organic wastes and other feedstocks. Te process of anaerobic digestion uses certain bacteria that consume organic "stuf " and release methane and carbon dioxide as waste products. Te methane that is released in B i o G a s B y G u s s i m m o N s , P E Above the dirt North Carolina has an abundance of biogas options right at ground level.

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