Cow Manure Offers Clean Energy Alternative

Fair Oaks dairy farmer Mike McClosey turned cow chips into the fuel necessary to deliver his milk. McClosey saves 12 million diesel-fueled miles each year by filling the tanks of his tractor-trailers with cow droppings that have been turned into natural gas.

Drivers of 60 tankers from the Fair Oaks dairies no longer have the need to stop by a filling station and purchase $4-per-gallon diesel fuel. The semi-trucks have been specially fitted to run on natural gas create from cow manure. They travel from northern Indiana to manufacturing plants around the state, in Tennessee, and Kentucky.

Dairy farmer Mike McClosey have been making methane from cow manure and using gensets to create electric for about 10 years. The fuel was originally comprised of significant amounts of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide.

In recent years the Indiana farmer opted to use a scrubbing technology to perfect the process and was able to produce natural gas. While utilizing the scrubbing technology was a simple task, it was not an inexpensive one.

AMP Americas, an energy company, is partnering with Fair Oaks on the cow manure natural gas project. Representative Mike Stoermann had this to say about the clean energy alternative fuel:

“We take the manure from the cows and put it into sealed digester vessels, the manure is heated to 100 degrees at which the bacteria produces methane and CO2, which is called biogas. The Biogas is cleaned to remove the CO2, using water and pressure to create biomethane, which is then odorized to create renewable natural gas.”

The cow manure natural gas powers the semi-truck’s 9-liter engines. The smaller engines sometimes make it difficult for the semi-trators to get up steep hills. McClosey plans to solve that problem in August after installing new 12-liter engines in the trucks. He gave a tour of his dairy farm and energy project to members of the National Dairy Producers Conference earlier this week.


The ultimate goal of the cow manure energy project is to have natural gas filling station throughout the southeastern United States. A partnership with Dairy Farmers of America includes plans to build a similar cow manure natural gas fueling stations in the southwestern region of the United States.

In the short term, such filling station would tap into existing conventional natural gas pipelines. Ultimately, large dairy farms in the region might be able to begin producing on-site natural gas to add to the fuel supply.

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