Researchers from North Carolina State University and West Virginia University have developed a new technology that can reduce air pollutant emissions from some chicken and swine barns, and also reduce their energy use by recovering and possibly generating heat.

Specifically, the research team designed, built and evaluated a proof-of-concept unit that incorporates a biofilter and a heat exchanger to reduce ammonia emissions from livestock barns, while also tempering — or heating up — the fresh air that is pumped into the barns. “The technology is best suited for use when an operation wants to vent a facility that has high ammonia concentrations, and pump in cleaner air in preparation for a fresh batch of chicks or piglets — particularly in cold weather," said Dr. Sanjay Shah, an associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the research. "It is also suitable for use when supplemental heat is required for raising the young animals.”


When operated in a 5,000-bird chicken house, a prototype removed up to 79% of ammonia and reduced the energy needed to maintain the necessary temperature  in the facility, recovering as much as 8.3 kilowatts of heat. “We plan to continue working to improve the system design in order to make it even more efficient,” said Shah.