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Integrated Manure Utilization System (IMUS)

The Integrated Manure Utilization System (IMUS) developed by the Alberta Research Council and Highmark Renewables of Vegreville combines the use of manure as fuel and fertilizer with 21st century techniques.

Manure has been used as fuel and fertilizer for millennia, but only in small, local settings. The intensive concentration of cattle in massive feedlot complexes in Alberta has created an environmental conundrum for farmers, governments and regulatory agencies as they try to find ways to dispose of the thousands of tonnes of manure produced by these operations.

The Integrated Manure Utilization System (IMUS) takes manure from feedlots and converts it into methane (fuel) and bio-fertilizer, which can be sold to various users.

The manure is loaded from the feedlot into a machine that separates out foreign objects like rocks and metal, and pounds the manure into a fine powder. The manure then enters a wet hopper, where heated water is added, creating a slurry that has a temperature of 55 degrees Celcius. The slurry goes through another machine which chops the mix into finer particles, and then deposits it into anaerobic digestion tanks.

The anaerobic digestion tanks are where the manure is broken down into biogas, usually 57-59 percent methane, plus carbon dioxide and other trace gases. The biogas is constantly collected, and burned to drive an electrical generator, which supplies power to the feedlot and the province-wide electrical grid. The pilot plant opened in 2005 near Vegreville generates a considerable amount of electricity.

The slurry from the anaerobic digestion tanks is transported to a centrifuge where the solid and liquid components are separated. The liquid is treated to recover nutrients, and then the resulting water is used for irrigation. The remaining solid is then converted into bio-fertilizer.

The system has earned praise for reducing greenhouse gases from manure decomposition while generating "green" power. Highmark Renewables and the Alberta Research Council are working on developing IMUS processes which can be used in a variety of livestock operations as well as food processing operations.

Featured Audio

IMUS: Integrated Manure Utilization System

The Heritage Community Foundation is pleased to present this episode of the Innovation Alberta radio series, courtesy of Porcupine Stone Productions and Cheryl Croucher.

Mike Kotelko, Project Advisor to High Mark Renewables, and Dr. Xaiomei Li, the leading scientist for the IMUS biogas project, describe the technology behind and applications for biogas recovery. Listen

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