SWBEC’s newest project involves treating swine waste to produce high value products, such as feed, biofuel, plastics, and therapeutics. We are collaborating with Circle Four Farms, the state’s largest and one of the world’s largest swine farms, with 1.2 million pigs. Swine waste is more concentrated than other agricultural waste streams, and sequential treatment is particularly effective in treating this waste. We use an anaerobic digester and biofilm reactor in sequence to drastically reduce the nutrient concentration.
First, using upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactors (UASB reactors), we take a high concentrated waste stream and reduce its concentration by eighty times, harvesting the nutrients to produce methane and high-grade fertilizer. This process makes the waste stream more manageable for a rotating algal biofilm reactor (RABR), other biofilm reactors, or even lagoon style treatment.
We make some of our highest value products in biofilm reactors. By growing either an algal biofilm or a cyanobacteria biofilm on a rotating reactor, we concentrate the nutrients in the site to make it easier to filter and harvest them to produce different types of plastics, biofuel, and feed.