Duke Energy, University partner to turn hog waste to energy

Duke Energy and Duke University are partnering on a project to make electricity from hog waste.

The $1 million system will be tested at a 9,000-head hog farm in Boonville, about 70 miles north of Charlotte. It's expected to be running by February.

Wastewater from barns will be treated in a device called a digester, which breaks down wastes in an airless environment. Captured methane gas will fuel a small turbine to generate 512 to 639 megawatt-hours a year of electricity. That's enough to supply about 50 typical houses.

Capturing methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, creates carbon offsets for Duke University, which has set a goal of being carbon-free by 2024. The university would use the offsets if the federal government limits emissions of greenhouse gases.

Making electricity from the methane will produce renewable-energy credits that Duke Energy can apply to a state green-energy mandate.

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