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Pipeline vs. Truck Transport of Beef Cattle Manure
Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.orgCitation: Paper number PNW05-1012, 2005 Pacific Northwest Region .
Authors: Emad Ghafoori, Peter C. Flynn, John J. Feddes
Keywords: Manure management, Manure transportation, Pipeline, Truck, Transportation costs
Anaerobic digestion of manure can be conducted at a wide range of capacities. As capacity increases, economies of scale in capital equipment are realized but transportation costs increase as manure must be carried longer distances to the plant site. In this study we evaluate the cost of pipelining manure from beef cattle confined feeding operations, i.e. feedlots, as an alternative to truck transport. Pipeline transportation cost is minimized at a slurry concentration of about 12%; low concentrations require a larger pipeline, and high concentrations require higher pumping costs. Pipelining costs are highly scale dependent, while trucking costs are virtually independent of scale. Manure starts its journey to a digester on a truck; pipelining of manure is more economic than ongoing truck transport for manure from animals in excess of 95,000. Incremental net fixed costs for trans-shipment from truck to pipeline are low for manure because equipment installed at the pipeline inlet eliminates the need for identical equipment within the digester plant; the incremental fixed cost identified in this study is the cost of a pipeline operator. A pipeline must run for a minimum distance to recover the incremental fixed cost of trans-shipment; at 300,000 animals, the minimum economic pipeline distance is 8 km. Pipeline transport of beef cattle manure has the potential to reduce overall transportation cost to a large centralized digester in areas such as Dodge City, Kansas or Lethbridge, Alberta where very large numbers of beef cattle are in feedlots. A 50 km pipeline carrying manure from 300,000 beef cattle has a overall transport cost of 60% of ongoing truck transport.