Professional Engineers Of North Carolina

FALL 2014

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15 Fall 2014 the Professional Engineer this process is analogous to natural gas and can be captured, purifed and distributed for similar uses. Using anaerobic digestion for treating municipal wastes is not new. According to the EPA, there are more than 16,000 permitted municipal wastewater treatment plants in the United States, of which about 10 percent use anaerobic digestion in the treatment process. North Carolina is home to several anaerobic digesters that manage organic wastes from livestock farming and food processing, in addition to munici- pal wastewater plants. In most cases, however, the methane is simply fared, and the opportunity to repurpose this methane to satisfy an energy need (electricity, transportation fuel or heat) is lost. With the abundance of organic resources in our state, we must promote the development of policies and economic systems that harvest these rich energy resources, adding to our economy and resulting in environmental improvement. Since the late 1990s, North Carolinians have sought technologies and approaches to address public concerns associated with environmental impacts stemming from our agricultural practices. For example, much efort and money have been invested in developing systems that hold potential for improv- ing upon the lagoon and sprayfeld systems used by many North Carolina swine farms, dairies and some poultry operations. In the case of swine farms, of which our state has many, laws were adopted specifcally to prevent the further use of lagoons for new or expanding farms, stifing that industry's growth in our state. In most cases, these efforts to develop alternate systems result in increased costs that must be borne by the farmer, which simply cannot be assumed in an already tight- margin business. However, the development of biogas and bioenergy systems creates additional revenue streams for the farm, stemming from the sale of energy products, fuel, environmental credits and other oftakes under development such as biopharmaceuticals. Tese bioenergy systems often address many of the public concerns for air and water quality, and the additional oftake revenue streams present opportunity for further investments that renew, modernize and improve farms. In this regard, bioenergy systems satisfy our desire for renewable energy and have the added beneft of sustaining our agricultural economy, promoting increased food production for our growing population and promoting environmental improvement.

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