13 January 2014

Odour eliminator to keep pig producers in business

Bad smell

It is rare for pig farmers and their neighbours to get along. When swine stink, neighbours squeal. A scientist from SCIENCE comes to the aide of the farmers (and their neighbours) with an air purifier.

Matthew Johnson

Matthew Johnson is to help the farmers with an air purifier to replace the stench of pig waste with a fresher, non-odorous alternative. The project has received a grant from the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation.

The problem with the smell of pig slurry is that as the number of stalls expands, so does the smell. This can be the deathblow for an otherwise thriving farmer. Matthew Johnson, a chemist at the University of Copenhagen, plans on developing an air purifier to replace the stench of pig waste with a fresher, non-odorous alternative. And, thanks to a two million kroner grant from the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation, Johnson will be able to employ Carl Meusinger, an extra researcher, for two years.

Air purifier will save jobs

CleanAir containerThe air purifier set to clear the farmland neighbourhood’s air is referred to as a photochemical air purifier, or photochemical accelerator, and was patented by Johnson and the University of Copenhagen in 2009. It has proven effective against foul-smelling wastewater treatment odours, but the stench of slurry presents a unique challenge. The solution promises to save both jobs and export revenue.

Furious neighbours have shut down foul-smelling producers

A ‘high-concentration pig production’ farm of the future will accommodate tens of thousands of animals. The first of these projects is set to open in 2014 and the looming prospect of this enormously concentrated type of production stirs anxiety among farmland residents. While government regulation of nasty odours is limited, angry neighbours have nevertheless succeeded in forcing producers to shut down or relocate.

A stench can also have an impact upon employment. And not just in relation to those in the pork industry. Biogas installations and wastewater treatment facilities can also prompt neighbours to plead to the authorities and go to the courts. Until now, these odour emitters haven’t had the opportunity to adequately and amicably address the grievances of their neighbours.

Economically viable method

A cost effective means of ensuring pure air has until now, never existed. The problem – is the human nose. Foul odours consist of gas, and the human sense of smell can detect foul smells down to the molecule. Previous purification methods have only been able to remove small amounts of gas by burning them, freezing them down or running the smelly air through an active carbon filter. These methods require great deals of energy or maintenance.

Air purifier transforms gas to dust

Matthew JohnsonThe photochemical air purifier forces gas atoms to join and collect into larger molecules in a process stimulated by the presence of ozone and accelerated by ultraviolet light. The process transforms the gas into more easily removed dust particles. The air purifier was invented by Professor Matthew S. Johnson, of the Copenhagen Center for Atmospheric Research at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Chemistry. It is made commercially available by INFUSER A/S, a corporate partner to the air purification project.

The two partners have previously helped firms that faced closure due to hazardous gas emissions. Working together, INFUSER and the University of Copenhagen will now develop a system to remove amounts of gas that are a simple annoyance to neighbours. With this type of air purifier, a business can expand without any foul smell to curse its forward march.