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Monarch Bioenergy, a joint venture between Smithfield Foods, Inc. and Roeslein Alternative Energy (RAE), recently finished installing manure-to-energy technology on nearly all of Smithfield’s Northern Missouri hog finishing farms.

The new technology captures methane emissions and converts them into carbon-negative renewable natural gas (RNG) to power homes, vehicles and businesses, RAE said in a release.

“We are delighted to reach this exciting milestone, which is a significant step toward fulfilling our commitment to implement this transformative, cutting-edge technology on the vast majority of our finishing farms in multiple states,” Kraig Westerbeek, vice president of Smithfield Renewables for Smithfield Foods, said in the release.

The Monarch Bioenergy manure-to-energy projects remove 25 times more emissions from the atmosphere than are emitted during the clean energy’s end use, Westerbeek said in the release.

The $150-million project officially began construction in 2014, three years after RAE and Smithfield first had the idea to embark on the joint venture. RAE said the proprietary processes that emerged from the project create carbon-negative RNG at a rate of approximately 800,000 dekatherms annually.

The partnership also planted hundreds of acres of prairie grass, which provides ecological services and wildlife habitat for monarch butterflies across the state. The companies are also looking into opportunities to harvest prairie plants to create biomass for RNG production.

“With perseverance and dedication to our vision we navigated the pathways for swine manure with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the EPA to receive the lowest CI (carbon intensity) scores in the swine industry,” RAE Chairman and CEO Rudi Roeslein, said in the release. “We are leading the way to improve the industry’s environmental footprint and diversify its income stream. This is a blueprint on how to turn challenges into opportunities.”

In addition to the projects in Missouri, the companies have individually and collectively created additional manure-to-energy projects in Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

Farm Journal’s Pork | Jennifer Shike | August 12, 

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