Cargill contract for Limerick agri-tech company BHSL

From left, Seán Fitzpatrick of BHSL; John Reed of Cargill Meats Europe, and Declan O'Connor of BHSL.

A Limerick-based company’s technology for on-farm combustion of poultry manure has set it up for expansion across the UK, Europe and the USA.

Cargill’s European poultry business has signed a 20-year agreement with the company, BHSL, to convert poultry manure to energy in Herefordshire, UK.

And BHSL recently secured its first contract in the USA, with the Department of Agriculture in Maryland, to help tackle water quality challenges at Chesapeake Bay.

Based at Kantoher Business Park, Ballagh, Co Limerick, BHSL was primarily set up to find an economic alternative to land spreading for poultry manure produced in broiler rearing.

Since 2006, the company has been developing methods for using the manure as a fuel for energy generation, using Fluidised Bed Combustion technology to convert the manure into thermal energy.

BHSL technology is currently the only approved system under new European regulations that became law in July, 2014. BHSL championed the development of these new rules for on-farm combustion of poultry manure at European Commission level, in close collaboration with the UK and Irish governments, on behalf of the European poultry industry.

The resulting rules reclassified poultry manure as a valuable animal by-product for on-farm combustion, which meets emissions animal health and human health standards.

With BHSL technology, poultry litter from one batch is combusted on the farm to provide clean, dry renewable heat to sustain the next batch. Surplus heat is available to produce renewable power for the farm or export to the grid.

Rather than being transported elsewhere for disposal, with ever-growing environmental consequences, the litter is securely stored and then combusted on the farm to produce heat and power.

The fluidised bed combustion uses a heated bed of sand suspended (fluidised) within a rising column of air to burn many different types of biomass. The technique results in good combustion efficiency of variable moisture content fuels, and is adaptable to a wide variety of low grade biomass/organic fuels.

The system has been developed by BHSL as a managed service, installed into a custom built energy centre operated by BHSL.

At Cargill’s Herefordshire, UK chicken farm, a 40% energy costs saving over 20 years is projected, when BHSL builds a one mega watt unit to generate heat and electricity from about 3,500 tonnes of poultry litter a year.

It will include a three kilometers district heating network and heaters for 13 poultry houses. The heat and electricity generated on thepoultry farm qualifies for the UK Renewable Heat Incentive and Renewable Obligation Certificates.

John Reed, Agriculture Director, Cargill Meats Europe, said the enclosed manure handling system will improve biosecurity, and the system has significant environmental benefits, which include low carbon, reduced ammonia emissions, and ground water protection.

Declan O’Connor, BHSL’s CEO, said that the conversion of manure to energy presents a transformational opportunity to the global poultry industry.

“This is a genuine game changer for the poultry industry, for the first time the by-product from chicken production is used as a low cost energy source to grow chicken sustainably and efficiently.”

BHSL founder Jack O’Connor pioneered the technology in response to restrictions in poultry manure spreading in Ireland.

BHSL has worked closely with the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine through all phases of its subsequent development from early research and development to the finalisation in Brussels of the necessary new rules in EU Regulation 592/2014.

Their new client, Cargill, is one of the world’s largest privately owned food production companies, with over $130bn in revenues, operating in 67 countries, with 153,000 employees.


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