Clemson scientist tackles farm animal waste problem

By Peter Kent

red cowsJust as oxygen-based bleach cleans laundry, an oxygen-based system developed at Clemson is cleaning animal waste from manure ponds. 

Annel Greene, a Clemson animal scientist, has patented a process to treat animal waste from barns, which is collected in manure ponds called “lagoons.” Her technique can clean and clear wastewater rapidly while reducing odor and killing bacteria.

“Animal waste disposal from confined animal feeding operations poses a serious challenge for farmers,” said Annel Greene, a Clemson animal scientist. “Odors from animal waste cause public outcry, and wastewater can be a haven for disease-causing microorganisms, such as E. coli. Organic-laden manure has also been involved in non-point source pollution of rivers and streams.”

The patented system uses ozone in an integrated wastewater treatment process. Ozone is a potent oxidizing agent that releases oxygen and causes rapid destruction of the organic components of animal waste. The research has indicated that this treatment can safely oxidize the odor components and the fecal matter while killing bacteria in the wastewater. The ozone is produced by a generator; eliminating the need for chemicals to treat the waste.

“Ozone generation also can occur naturally,” Greene said. “Every time a bolt of lightning flashes across the sky, ozone is generated. It is one of the sources of a fresh, clean smell after a thunderstorm.”

The system has been successfully tested on fresh dairy cattle waste, dairy lagoon wastewater, fresh swine manure, swine lagoon wastewater and poultry litter. Results indicate significant reduction in odor components and waste solids. Research is continuing into even more improvements in the system to make treatment of lagoons more rapid and efficient. This system has been licensed to Metropolitan Energy Systems, Inc. of Cincinnati for commercial distribution.