Development and Testing of a Hydrogen Sulfide Detection System for Use in Swine Housing

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Muhlbauer, Ross
Swestka, Randy
Burns, Robert
Li, Hong
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Hoff, Steven
Professor Emeritus
Xin, Hongwei
Distinguished Professor Emeritus
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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.

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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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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Transient hazards to human and animal health can occur in swine barns due to sudden bursts of high concentration hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas released when manure slurry is agitated during removal from sub-floor pits. Studies have shown that H2S levels can go from harmless to deadly in a matter of minutes during pit agitation (Patni and Clarke, 2003). From 1983 to 1990, H2S poisoning was responsible for the death of 24 swine workers in the Midwest alone and at least 15 more deaths since 1994 (Walinga, 2004). Swine slurry removal workers and producers report swine deaths every year from slurry agitation in sub-floor storage, or pits. Hence, a system that can reliably and promptly report H2S concentrations in swine housing without direct exposure of the operator(s) to the potentially hazardous environment is of socioeconomic importance to the swine producers. This paper describes the development and testing of a wireless, portable H2S detection system, followed by the use of the system under field conditions by slurry removal workers to monitor H2S levels during slurry agitation and removal in deep-pit swine housing systems in Iowa. The system developed in this study has a component cost of $2,735 and is based on a Pemtech PT-295 electro-chemical H2S sensor and a Phoenix Contact Wireless Transmitter / Receiver set. The portable H2S detection system has the following operational characteristics: a) 90% (t90) response to 10 - 500 ppm H2S within one minute, b) ± 5 % full scale accuracy, and c) < 2 hr warm-up time for operation.


This is an ASABE Meeting Presentation, Paper No. 084203.

Tue Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2008