Livestock production systems generate nuisance odor and gaseous emissions affecting local communities and regional air quality. There are also concerns about the occupational health and safety of farmworkers. Proven mitigation technologies that are consistent with the socio-economic challenges of animal farming are needed. We have been scaling up the photocatalytic treatment of emissions from lab-scale, aiming at farm-scale readiness. In this paper, we present the design, testing, and commissioning of a mobile laboratory for on-farm research and demonstration of performance in simulated farm conditions before testing to the farm. The mobile lab is capable of treating up to 1.2 m3/s of air with titanium dioxide, TiO2-based photocatalysis, and adjustable UV-A dose based on LED lamps. We summarize the main technical requirements, constraints, approach, and performance metrics for a mobile laboratory, such as the effectiveness (measured as the percent reduction) and cost of photocatalytic treatment of air. The commissioning of all systems with standard gases resulted in ~9% and 34% reduction of ammonia (NH3) and butan-1-ol, respectively. We demonstrated the percent reduction of standard gases increased with increased light intensity and treatment time. These results show that the mobile laboratory was ready for on-farm deployment and evaluating the effectiveness of UV treatment.
Gaseous emissions, a side effect of livestock and poultry production, need to be mitigated to improve sustainability. Emissions of ammonia (NH3), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), greenhouse gases (GHGs), and odorous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have a detrimental effect on the environment, climate, and quality of life in rural communities. We are building on previous research to bring advanced oxidation technologies from the lab to the farm. To date, we have shown that ultraviolet A (UV-A) has the potential to mitigate selected odorous gases and GHGs in the context of swine production. Much less research on emissions mitigation has been conducted in the context of poultry production. Thus, the study objective was to investigate whether the UV-A can mitigate NH3, H2S, GHGs, and O3 in the simulated poultry barn environment. The effects of several variables were tested: the presence of photocatalyst, relative humidity, treatment time, and dust accumulation under two different light intensities (facilitated with fluorescent and light-emitting diode, LED, lamps). The results provide evidence that photocatalysis with TiO2 coating and UV-A light can reduce gas concentrations of NH3, CO2, N2O, and O3, without a significant effect on H2S and CH4. The particular % reduction depends on the presence of photocatalysts, relative humidity (RH), light type (intensity), treatment time, and dust accumulation on the photocatalyst surface. In the case of NH3, the reduction varied from 2.6–18.7% and was affected by RH and light intensity. The % reduction of NH3 was the highest at 12% RH and increased with treatment time and light intensity. The % reduction of NH3 decreased with the accumulation of poultry dust. The % reduction for H2S had no statistical difference under any experimental conditions. The proposed treatment of NH3 and H2S was evaluated for a potential impact on important ambient air quality parameters, the possibility of simultaneously mitigating or generating GHGs. There was no statistically significant change in CH4 concentrations under any experimental conditions. CO2 was reduced at 3.8%–4.4%. N2O and O3 concentrations were reduced by both direct photolysis and photocatalysis, with the latter having greater % reductions. As much as 6.9–12.2% of the statistically-significant mitigation of N2O was observed. The % reduction for O3 ranged from 12.4–48.4%. The results warrant scaling up to a pilot-scale where the technology could be evaluated with economic analyses.
Poultry farmers are producing eggs, meat, and feathers with increased efficiency and lower carbon footprint. Technologies to address concerns about the indoor air quality inside barns and the gaseous emissions from farms to the atmosphere continue to be among industry priorities. We have been developing and scaling up a UV air treatment that has the potential to reduce odor and other gases on the farm scale. In our recent laboratory-scale study, the use of UV-A (a less toxic ultraviolet light, a.k.a. "black light") and a special TiO 2-based photocatalyst reduced concentrations of several important air pollutants (NH 3 , CO 2 , N 2 O, O 3) without impact on H 2 S and CH 4. Therefore, the objectives of this research were to (1) scale up the UV treatment to pilot scale, (2) evaluate the mitigation of odor and odorous volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and (3) complete preliminary economic analyses. A pilot-scale experiment was conducted under commercial poultry barn conditions to evaluate photocatalyst coatings on surfaces subjected to UV light under field conditions. In this study, the reactor was constructed to support interchangeable wall panels and installed on a poultry farm. The effects of a photocatalyst's presence (photocatalysis and photolysis), UV intensity (LED and fluorescent), and treatment time were studied in the pilot-scale experiments inside a poultry barn. The results of the pilot-scale experiments were consistent with the laboratory-scale one: the percent reduction under photocatalysis was generally higher than photolysis. In addition, the percent reduction of target gases at a high light intensity and long treatment time was higher. The percent reduction of NH 3 was 5-9%. There was no impact on H 2 S, CH 4 , and CO 2 under any experimental conditions. N 2 O and O 3 concentrations were reduced at 6-12% and 87-100% by both photolysis and photocatalysis. In addition, concentrations of several VOCs responsible for livestock odor were reduced from 26 to 62% and increased with treatment time and light intensity. The odor was reduced by 18%. Photolysis treatment reduced concentrations of N 2 O, VOCs, and O 3 , only. The initial economic analysis has shown that LEDs are more efficient than fluorescent lights. Further scale-up and research at farm scale are warranted.
Biochar application to the soil can improve soil quality and nutrient leaching loss from swine manure adapted soils. Our working hypothesis was that the biochar-incubated with manure could be a better soil amendment than conventional manure application. The manure-biochar application to the soil would decrease nutrient leaching from manure and increase plant-available nutrients. The study objectives were to 1) assess the physicochemical properties of the manure-biochar mixture after lab incubation and 2) evaluate the impact of biochar-treated swine manure on soil total C, N, and other major and minor nutrients in comparison to conventional manure application to soil. Three biochars 1) neutral pH red-oak (RO), 2) highly alkaline autothermal corn (Zea mays) stover (HAP), and 3) mild acidic Fe-treated autothermal corn stover (HAPE) were incubated with swine manure for a month. The biochar-manure mixture was applied in triplicate to soil columns with an application rate determined by the P2O5-P content in manure or manure-biochar mixtures after the incubation. The ammonium (NH4+), nitrate (NO3‒), and reactive P concentrations in soil column leachates were recorded for eight leaching events. Soil properties and plant-available nutrients were compared between treatments and control manure and soil. Manure-(HAP&HAPE) biochar treatments significantly increased soil organic matter (OM), and all biochar-manure mixture increased (numerically) soil total C, N, and improved soil bulk density. Concentrations of NH4+ and NO3‒ significantly increased in MHAPE column leachates during this 4-week study and the KCl-extractable NH4+ and NO3‒ in the soil at the end of the experiment. A significant reduction in soil Mehlich3 Cu was also observed for the manure-HAPE mixture compared with the manure control. The manure-red oak biochar significantly increased the soil Mn availability than other manure-biochar treatments or manure control. Overall, the manure-biochar incubation enabled biochar to stabilize the C and several nutrients from manure. The subsequent manure-biochar mixture application to soil improved soil quality and plant nutrient availability compared to conventional manure application. This proof-of-the-concept study suggests that biochars could be used to solve both environmental and agronomic challenges and further improve the sustainability of animal and crop production agriculture.
Acute releases of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) are of serious concern in agriculture, especially when farmers agitate manure to empty storage pits before land application. Agitation can cause the release of dangerously high H2S concentrations, resulting in human and animal fatalities. To date, there is no proven technology to mitigate these short-term releases of toxic gas from manure. In our previous research, we have shown that biochar, a highly porous carbonaceous material, can float on manure and mitigate gaseous emissions over extended periods (days–weeks). In this research, we aim to test the hypothesis that biochar can mitigate H2S emissions over short periods (minutes–hours) during and shortly after manure agitation. The objective was to conduct proof-of-the-concept experiments simulating the treatment of agitated manure. Two biochars, highly alkaline and porous (HAP, pH 9.2) made from corn stover and red oak (RO, pH 7.5), were tested. Three scenarios (setups): Control (no biochar), 6 mm, and 12 mm thick layers of biochar were surficially-applied to the manure. Each setup experienced 3 min of manure agitation. Real-time concentrations of H2S were measured immediately before, during, and after agitation until the concentration returned to the initial state. The results were compared with those of the Control using the following three metrics: (1) the maximum (peak) flux, (2) total emission from the start of agitation until the concentration stabilized, and (3) the total emission during the 3 min of agitation. The Gompertz’s model for determination of the cumulative H2S emission kinetics was developed. Here, 12 mm HAP biochar treatment reduced the peak (1) by 42.5% (p = 0.125), reduced overall total emission (2) by 17.9% (p = 0.290), and significantly reduced the total emission during 3 min agitation (3) by 70.4%. Further, 6 mm HAP treatment reduced the peak (1) by 60.6%, and significantly reduced overall (2) and 3 min agitation’s (3) total emission by 64.4% and 66.6%, respectively. Moreover, 12 mm RO biochar treatment reduced the peak (1) by 23.6%, and significantly reduced overall (2) and 3 min total (3) emission by 39.3% and 62.4%, respectively. Finally, 6 mm RO treatment significantly reduced the peak (1) by 63%, overall total emission (2) by 84.7%, and total emission during 3 min agitation (3) by 67.4%. Biochar treatments have the potential to reduce the risk of inhalation exposure to H2S. Both 6 and 12 mm biochar treatments reduced the peak H2S concentrations below the General Industrial Peak Limit (OSHA PEL, 50 ppm). The 6 mm biochar treatments reduced the H2S concentrations below the General Industry Ceiling Limit (OSHA PEL, 20 ppm). Research scaling up to larger manure volumes and longer agitation is warranted.
UV-A (ca. 365 nm wavelength, a.k.a. ‘black light’) photocatalysis has been investigated to comprehensively mitigate odor and selected air pollutants in the livestock environment. This study was conducted to confirm the performance of UV-A photocatalysis on the swine farm. The objectives of this research were to (1) scale-up of the UV-A photocatalysis treatment, (2) evaluate the mitigation of odorous gases from swine slurry pit, (3) test different UV sources, (4) evaluate the effect of particulate matter (PM) and (5) conduct preliminary economic analyses. We tested UV-A photocatalysis at a mobile laboratory-scale capable of treating ~0.2–0.8 m3·s−1 of barn exhaust air. The targeted gaseous emissions of barn exhaust air were significantly mitigated (p < 0.05) up to 40% reduction of measured odor; 63%, 44%, 32%, 40%, 66% and 49% reduction of dimethyl disulfide, isobutyric acid, butanoic acid, p-cresol, indole and skatole, respectively; 40% reduction of H2S; 100% reduction of O3; and 13% reduction of N2O. The PM mitigation effect was not significant. Formaldehyde levels did not change, and a 21% generation of CO2 was observed. The percent reduction of targeted gases decreased as the airborne PM increased. Simultaneous chemical and sensory analysis confirmed that UV-A treatment changed the overall nuisance odor character of swine barn emissions into weaker manure odor with ‘toothpaste and ‘mint’ notes. The smell of benzoic acid generated in UV-A treatment was likely one of the compounds responsible for the less-offensive overall odor character of the UV-treated emissions. Results are needed to inform the design of a farm-scale trial, where the interior barn walls can be treated with the photocatalyst.
Environmental impact associated with odor and gaseous emissions from animal manure is one of the challenges for communities, farmers, and regulatory agencies. Microbe-based manure additives treatments are marketed and used by farmers for mitigation of emissions. However, their performance is difficult to assess objectively. Thus, comprehensive, practical, and low-cost treatments are still in demand. We have been advancing such treatments based on physicochemical principles. The objective of this research was to test the effect of the surficial application of a thin layer (¼ inches; 6.3 mm) of biochar on the mitigation of gaseous emissions (as the percent reduction, % R) from swine manure. Two types of biochar were tested: highly alkaline and porous (HAP) biochar made from corn stover and red oak (RO), both with different pH and morphology. Three 30-day trials were conducted with a layer of HAP and RO (2.0 & 1.65 kg∙m−2, respectively) applied on manure surface, and emissions of ammonia (NH3), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), greenhouse gases (GHG), and odorous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were measured. The manure and biochar type and properties had an impact on the mitigation effect and its duration. RO significantly reduced NH3 (19–39%) and p-cresol (66–78%). H2S was mitigated (16~23%), but not significantly for all trials. The phenolic VOCs had relatively high % R in most trials but not significantly for all trials. HAP reduced NH3 (4~21%) and H2S (2~22%), but not significantly for all trials. Significant % R for p-cresol (91~97%) and skatole (74~95%) were observed for all trials. The % R for phenol and indole ranged from (60~99%) and (29~94%) but was not significant for all trials. The impact on GHGs, isobutyric acid, and the odor was mixed with some mitigation and generation effects. However, larger-scale experiments are needed to understand how biochar properties and the dose and frequency of application can be optimized to mitigate odor and gaseous emissions from swine manure. The lessons learned can also be applicable to surficial biochar treatment of gaseous emissions from other waste and area sources.
Odor and gaseous emissions from the swine industry are of concern for the wellbeing of humans and livestock. Additives applied to the swine manure surface are popular, marketed products to solve this problem and relatively inexpensive and easy for farmers to use. There is no scientific data evaluating the effectiveness of many of these products. We evaluated 12 manure additive products that are currently being marketed on their effectiveness in mitigating odor and gaseous emissions from swine manure. We used a pilot-scale system simulating the storage of swine manure with a controlled ventilation of headspace and periodic addition of manure. This dataset contains measured concentrations and estimated emissions of target gases in manure headspace above treated and untreated swine manure. These include ammonia (NH3), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, and N2O), volatile organic compounds (VOC), and odor. The experiment to test each manure additive product lasted for two months; the measurements of NH3 and H2S were completed twice a week; others were conducted weekly. The manure for each test was collected from three different farms in central Iowa to provide the necessary variety in stored swine manure properties. This dataset is useful for further analyses of gaseous emissions from swine manure under simulated storage conditions and for performance comparison of marketed products for the mitigation of gaseous emissions. Ultimately, swine farmers, the regulatory community, and the public need to have scientific data informing decisions about the usefulness of manure additives.
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