Farming Innovation Pathways: PigProGrAm
Developing a Circular Economy for UK Pig Production through Green Ammonia Harvesting
Beta has led a project aiming to reduce the environmental impact of ammonia emissions from livestock. It was awarded funding in October 2021 under the government’s Farming Innovation Pathways Competition and concluded in September 2023. PigProGrAm brought together farming and engineering expertise to demonstrate a novel farm-focused solution for the harvesting of green ammonia from livestock waste.
Agriculture is a significant contributor to ammonia emissions into the atmosphere, which have a negative impact on biodiversity by causing nitrogen accumulation on land and acidification of watercourses. To address this issue, an innovative system was tested on a pig farm, which involved using a Downflow Gas Contactor to separate ammonia from slurry. Such technologies will help create a more sustainable livestock industry in the UK by reducing environmental impacts caused by ammonia emissions. Additionally, this system can create valuable resources in the form of high-quality fertilizers and even generate hydrogen.
The research project also included the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB), Duynie, Membracon, University of Leeds and a commercial pig unit in North Yorkshire. The consortium brought together expertise in livestock farming, sustainable animal feed, chemical engineering, smart agricultural systems, market development, and dissemination.
By minimizing waste, improving resource efficiency and considering the entire lifecycle of products and resources, pig farming can become more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Innovation in the pork supply chain not only benefits the environment but can also lead to cost savings and improved profitability for farmers.
PigProGrAm has successfully demonstrated an integrated system which uses co-product feed, pit recharge flushing, slurry separation and ammonia harvesting to reduce environmental impacts such as global warming potential, eutrophication and acidification. These impacts have been quantified using life cycle assessment (LCA) and air ammonia analysis in the pig building. In addition to the environmental benefits, products with economic potential as fertiliser, green ammonia or methane feedstock for anaerobic digestion have been isolated.
Project Leader Richard Cinderey from Beta explains: “Harvesting ammonia from livestock waste not only reduces local environmental impacts but provides an exciting opportunity to contribute to reducing climate change. The government’s ‘Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’ promotes the growth of low carbon hydrogen as part of the move towards net-zero by 2050. Ammonia is a carbon-free molecule with a high weight fraction of hydrogen making it an excellent candidate for its storage and transportation.”
PigProGrAm, (Developing a Circular Economy for UK Pig Production Through Green Ammonia Harvesting), received £600k of funding under the government’s Farming Innovation Pathways Competition. The competition is a partnership between UKRI’s Transforming Food Production (TFP) challenge and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Farming Innovation Programme. Read more about the competition and other winners here.