Burnt Cow Patties New Source Of Energy

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Most people already know that cow manure makes a great fertilizer for lawns and crops. Now it's being used to produce energy. Sounds revolutionary, but according to Texas A&M biological and agricultural engineer professor, Cady Engler, the idea isn't new.

"It was implemented on a commercial basis in the 1980's as a result of the energy crisis of the 70's," Engler said.

Microgy is a renewable natural gas company based in Colorado. They are currently building a plant in Stephenville. The company already has similar plants up and operating in Wisconsin.

The plant takes manure from dairy cows and extracts the innate energy it contains to produce gas and electricity. However, the sum of energy generated isn't much.

According to Engler, the amount of energy produced at most dairy cow manure recycling facilities is only enough to operate the dairy itself. However, the facility in Stephenville will be unique.

"They're producing pipeline quality gas which will be put into the natural gas pipelines," Engler said.

The Lower Colorado River Authority in Austin has already agreed to buy the natural gas which is enough to power 6,000 homes. Cow manure's potential is promising, Engler said, but he offered that it's a long way from making a dent in our national energy consumption.

Perhaps down the road, cows will not only provide the beef, they could possibly supply the energy needed to cook it.