The Impact of Surficial Biochar Treatment on Acute H2S Emissions during Swine Manure Agitation before Pump-Out: Proof-of-the-Concept

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2020-08-16
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Chen, Baitong
Białowiec, Andrzej
Lee, Myeongseong
Ma, Hantian
Li, Peiyang
Meiirkhanuly, Zhanibek
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Koziel, Jacek
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Mechanical Engineering
The Department of Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University is where innovation thrives and the impossible is made possible. This is where your passion for problem-solving and hands-on learning can make a real difference in our world. Whether you’re helping improve the environment, creating safer automobiles, or advancing medical technologies, and athletic performance, the Department of Mechanical Engineering gives you the tools and talent to blaze your own trail to an amazing career.
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Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering

The Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering seeks to apply knowledge of the laws, forces, and materials of nature to the construction, planning, design, and maintenance of public and private facilities. The Civil Engineering option focuses on transportation systems, bridges, roads, water systems and dams, pollution control, etc. The Construction Engineering option focuses on construction project engineering, design, management, etc.

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The Department of Civil Engineering was founded in 1889. In 1987 it changed its name to the Department of Civil and Construction Engineering. In 2003 it changed its name to the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering.

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  • Department of Civil and Construction Engineering (1987-2003)
  • Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (2003–present)

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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

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In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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Acute releases of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) are of serious concern in agriculture, especially when farmers agitate manure to empty storage pits before land application. Agitation can cause the release of dangerously high H2S concentrations, resulting in human and animal fatalities. To date, there is no proven technology to mitigate these short-term releases of toxic gas from manure. In our previous research, we have shown that biochar, a highly porous carbonaceous material, can float on manure and mitigate gaseous emissions over extended periods (days–weeks). In this research, we aim to test the hypothesis that biochar can mitigate H2S emissions over short periods (minutes–hours) during and shortly after manure agitation. The objective was to conduct proof-of-the-concept experiments simulating the treatment of agitated manure. Two biochars, highly alkaline and porous (HAP, pH 9.2) made from corn stover and red oak (RO, pH 7.5), were tested. Three scenarios (setups): Control (no biochar), 6 mm, and 12 mm thick layers of biochar were surficially-applied to the manure. Each setup experienced 3 min of manure agitation. Real-time concentrations of H2S were measured immediately before, during, and after agitation until the concentration returned to the initial state. The results were compared with those of the Control using the following three metrics: (1) the maximum (peak) flux, (2) total emission from the start of agitation until the concentration stabilized, and (3) the total emission during the 3 min of agitation. The Gompertz’s model for determination of the cumulative H2S emission kinetics was developed. Here, 12 mm HAP biochar treatment reduced the peak (1) by 42.5% (p = 0.125), reduced overall total emission (2) by 17.9% (p = 0.290), and significantly reduced the total emission during 3 min agitation (3) by 70.4%. Further, 6 mm HAP treatment reduced the peak (1) by 60.6%, and significantly reduced overall (2) and 3 min agitation’s (3) total emission by 64.4% and 66.6%, respectively. Moreover, 12 mm RO biochar treatment reduced the peak (1) by 23.6%, and significantly reduced overall (2) and 3 min total (3) emission by 39.3% and 62.4%, respectively. Finally, 6 mm RO treatment significantly reduced the peak (1) by 63%, overall total emission (2) by 84.7%, and total emission during 3 min agitation (3) by 67.4%. Biochar treatments have the potential to reduce the risk of inhalation exposure to H2S. Both 6 and 12 mm biochar treatments reduced the peak H2S concentrations below the General Industrial Peak Limit (OSHA PEL, 50 ppm). The 6 mm biochar treatments reduced the H2S concentrations below the General Industry Ceiling Limit (OSHA PEL, 20 ppm). Research scaling up to larger manure volumes and longer agitation is warranted.

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This article is published as Chen, B.; Koziel, J.A.; Białowiec, A.; Lee, M.; Ma, H.; Li, P.; Meiirkhanuly, Z.; and Brown, R.C. "The Impact of Surficial Biochar Treatment on Acute H2S Emissions during Swine Manure Agitation before Pump-Out: Proof-of-the-Concept." 10 Catalysts (2020): 940. DOI: 10.3390/catal10080940. Posted with permission.

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Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2020
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