The heating of poultry barns can be a huge expense for farmers, especially during the winter. Opportunities to find new and efficient ways to decrease energy use for barn heating could help lessen that burden.
In that effort, the Beneficial Electrification League (BEL) a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting beneficial electrification of the economy, along with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), an organization that represents the legislative interests of electric cooperatives in the U.S., have awarded Hoosier Energy a $25,000 grant to create a project to investigate propane and natural gas savings on poultry farms. These farms utilize waste heat recovery systems and electric technologies that include heat exchangers, automatic controls, data recording, and digital monitoring, along with variable frequency drives as opposed to current barn heating technologies not using waste heat recovery.
Once confirmed, these savings could provide utilities new ways to promote beneficial electrification (BE) in under-served rural areas. Beneficial electrification is a term for replacing direct fossil fuel use (e.g., propane, heating oil, gasoline) with electricity in ways that reduce overall emissions and energy costs.
Hoosier Energy’s project could also determine if there are any additional non-energy benefits to the farm, (such as improved animal health) when utilizing waste heat recovery technology as compared to current barn heating methods.
This project study will provide unbiased information related to the energy efficiency of waste heat recovery technology and the potential for this knowledge to transition farms toward new beneficial electrification technologies.
Current waste heat recovery system research results are quite promising but additional testing in various states could result in a major transition and make a huge impact in the U.S. poultry industry. While acknowledging the increased electric load for heat exchangers, equipment manufacturers estimate gas savings of 40-50%. That type of savings in the poultry industry would be equivalent to removing approximately 250,000 cars from the road or planting one million acres of forest in the United States.