An impermeable cover at Smithfield Foods Hog Production's Ruckman Farm.
An impermeable cover at Smithfield Foods Hog Production's Ruckman Farm in Northwest Missouri is part of a $120 million manure-to-energy project.

ALBANY, Mo. – The first phase of a livestock manure-to-energy project that includes nine farms owned by Smithfield Foods Inc. is nearly 50 percent complete. Roeslein Alternative Energy announced a turnkey facility that will create and inject large quantities of renewable natural gas into the national grid system will be operational by mid-2016. Construction on the $120 million biogas project began in 2014.

Phase One of the project involves installation of impermeable covers and flare systems on 88 existing manure lagoons at Smithfield Foods hog finishing farms in Northern Missouri. Together, the farms are one of the largest concentrations of finishing hog facilities in the Midwest. The covers reduce greenhouse gases, keep rain out of the lagoons and reduce odor.

“This project will show how farmers can do more than produce food. We can make energy, we can reduce waste, and we can be good stewards for our most important resources — land and water,” said Blake Boxley, director of Environmental Health and Safety, Smithfield Hog Production.

The second phase of the project involves fabricating and installing biogas purification technology and developing an interconnection to a natural gas pipeline operated by ANR. The pipeline crosses Ruckman Farm. Roeslein Alternative Energy expects renewable natural gas to be pumped into the pipeline starting in the summer of 2016. Duke Energy in North Carolina has agreed to purchase a portion of the RNG.

“The technology we have developed is ready to be deployed commercially in a project that makes both economic sense and environmental sense,” said Rudi Roeslein, founder and president of Roeslein Alternative Energy. “This is not just about converting the manure from almost two million pigs into renewable energy. It’s about taking environmental sustainability to a new level.”

Smithfield Foods also has sustainable energy initiatives in place at its Circle 4 Farms in Milford, Utah.