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Smithfield Foods to Generate Gas from Plant Wastewater

01/09/2020

Smithfield Foods Inc., in partnership with Duke Energy and OptimaBio, LLC, is generating renewable natural gas (RNG) from the wastewater treatment system in operation at the Tar Heel, NC. pork plant, the largest in the world. The RNG produced will be sufficient to power the equivalent of 2,000 homes and will reduce emission of greenhouse gases in the State.

 

Through partnership with Duke Energy, roughly 140,000 dekatherms of RNG will be transported annually to natural gas plants to generate electricity. The $14 million project to generate RNG is the first in North Carolina following the commissioning of previous “wastewater-to-energy” projects at Smithfield plants in Missouri, Kentucky and South Dakota, that provide fuel for steam boilers.

 

The gas generation and injection systems are operated by partner OptimaBio, LLC, based on the outflow of three million gallons of wastewater released from the plant to the treatment system each working day. The RNG is injected into the Piedmont Natural Gas system, and received by Duke Energy to generate electrical power. The power utility is under a mandate to satisfy the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard law in North Carolina. This Act requires Duke Energy to generate 0.2 percent of power sold from swine waste by 2024.

 

Smithfield Foods, a subsidiary of the WH Group of China, recently lost a series of nuisance lawsuits filed by neighbors of hog farms contracted to the integrator. Plaintiffs alleged that lagoon-and spray system used to collect and treat hog waste resulted in odors diminishing the value of their property. Smithfield is appealing the adverse jury verdicts in Federal courts.