Butter Energy

Giant Butter Sculpture=Alternative Energy Source?  Yes, I said ‘butter sculpture’.  You know I love stories about helping the world and everything in it.  Well this story was extremely intriguing.  I read about it at the Mother Nature Network site.  This story, boys and girls, is about how a 1,000-pound butter sculpture became an alternative power source for an entire farm in Pennsylvania.

Giant butter sculptures are evidently a fixture at the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show.  This year’s star attraction is a 1,000-pound depiction of a young boy lead­ing his prize-winning calf through a county fair.  Shown here, the sculpture is a buttery masterpiece … an artistic marvel.  But as it is made of butter, it will not last for future generations to admire.  Typically, after the Farm Show is over, a lucky local farmer breaks down the slippery substance and uses the energy to power his house and farm for a few days.  It’s certainly an unexpected alternative energy source and a MOST creative use of recycling!
Here’s how it’s done:
First the giant buttery concoction gets unceremoniously dumped into an equally huge manure pit.  This will help to transform the butter into gas.  Microorganisms present within the manure-butter mixture, warmed by a heated methane digester, do all the work as they feast on the fatty mass.  “Those microorganisms can break those fat molecules apart into the less complex molecules,” explained Glenn Cauffman, manager of Penn State University‘s Farm Operations. “Then further take that to produce a gas called methane, which burns readily in an engine, and can be converted into … electricity.”  “Those organisms at a hundred degrees, are working hard,” he added. “They’re trying to live. They’re trying to reproduce. They’re trying to eat food, be happy, make more bacterial.”  The process will probably take just less than a month before the mixture is completely broken down into methane. At that point, all that’s needed is to hook up a generator. The electricity produced should be enough to power one man’s farm for three days.
Steve Rein­ford was the lucky farmer who gets the benefit of the power, is no stranger to this kind of alternative energy. The resourceful farmer said he usually relies on fuel from a nearby Walmart, which allows him to take leftover food waste that’s gone bad for his methane digester. Often he creates so much energy that he’s able to sell much of it back to the grid.  How great is that??