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.
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.
Studies have shown that biochar has the potential to remove organic and inorganic contaminants from wastewater. pH is known to have a crucial role in the transformation of pollutants. In this research, we explore the feasibility of using biochars properties to control the pH near the water-air interface, so the gaseous emissions from water (or wastewater) could be mitigated. This study aimed to test the effects of a thin layer biochar addition on the spatial and temporal variation of water pH. Two types of biochar and water were tested. Highly alkaline porous (HAP; pH 9.2) biochars made of corn stover and red oak (RO; pH 7.5) were applied surficially to tap (pH 9.5) and deionized water (DI) (pH 5.4). The spatial pH of solutions was measured every 1 mm of depth on days 0, 2, and 4 after biochar application. The results showed that HAP biochar increased the pH of both tap and DI water, while RO decreased tap water pH and increased DI water pH. On day 0, there was no effect on tap water pH, while a pH change in DI water was observed due to its lower buffer capacity. In addition, the pH (temporal) migration from topically applied biochar into an aqueous solution was visualized using a colorimetric pH indicator and corn starch to increase viscosity (to prevent biochars from sinking). The results prove that the surficial application of biochar to water was able to change both the pH near the water-air interface and the pH of the solution with time. The pH change was dependent on the biochar pH and water buffer capacity. These results warrant further research into the floatability of biochars and into designing biochars with specific pH, which could be a factor influencing gaseous emissions from liquids that are sensitive to pH.
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.
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.
Ammonia (NH3) emissions from animal agriculture can cause eutrophication of water ecosystems and are precursors to secondary particulate matter (PM2.5). NH3 emissions from stored swine manure represent nutrient loss affecting the fertilizing value of manure. The short-term emission bursts occur when farmers agitate manure before emptying storage and fertilizing fields. There is no proven technology to mitigate gaseous emissions during agitation, while the hazards of acute releases (e.g., H2S) are well-known. Biochar mitigates NH3 emissions from manure over the long-term. The objective of this research was to evaluate the mitigation of acute NH3 emissions during/after agitation. Two biochars, highly alkaline and porous (HAP from corn stover) and red oak (RO), were tested. The 6 and 12 mm-thick layers of biochar powder were surficial applied followed by 3 min agitation. NH3 concentrations were measured before/during/after agitation. Mitigation was assessed by comparing: (i) the maximum (peak) flux, (ii) total emission (from agitation start till NH3 concentration returned to the before-agitation), and (iii) the total emissions during agitation. The 12 mm HAP significantly (p < 0.05) reduced (i–iii) by 63, 70, and 85%, respectively. The 6 mm HAP significantly reduced (i–iii) by 76, 75, and 78%, respectively. The 12 mm RO significantly reduced (i–iii) by 9, 53, and 57%, respectively. The 6 mm RO significantly reduced (i–iii) by 61, 86, and 63%, respectively. The NH3 emission kinetics model confirmed that a 6 mm dose was just as effective as the larger dose. More research is needed to optimize and scale-up mitigating emissions and retention of nutrients in manure with biochar.
Mitigation of potentially hazardous and malodor compounds emitted from animal waste is needed to improve the sustainability of livestock agriculture. Bacteria control the generation of these compounds and also depend on the pH of manure. Influencing swine manure pH, especially on the liquid-air interface, may lead to a reduction of emission of odorous and hazardous compounds. The objective of this experiment was to test highly alkaline and porous (HAP) modified biochar with pH = 9.2 and red oak (RO) biochar with pH = 7.5 influence on swine manure pH acquired from the outdoor storage and deep pit storage under a barn. HAP and RO biochars were topically applied on the outdoor-stored (pH = 7.55), and pit (pH = 8.00) manures and spatial pH (every 1 mm of depth) were measured on days 0, 2, and 4. Results showed that HAP biochar increased outdoor-stored manure pH on day 4, particularly within the top 10 mm of depth, where pH ranged from 7.79 to 8.90, while in the case of RO pH ranged between 7.46 and 7.66, i.e., similar to control (7.57-7.64). Both biochars decreased pit-stored manure pH within the top 10 mm of depth (in comparison with the control pH of 8.36-8.47) to 8.19-8.30 (HAP), and 8.18-8.29 (RO) on day 4. However, differences were not considerable. The reason for the insignificant effect of biochars on pit manure was likely due to its higher buffer capacity in comparison with the outdoor-stored manure.
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