February 14, 2008
Smithfield sells Utah biofuel plant
Smithfield Foods sold its biofuels plant in Utah as the company concluded the plant could not generate enough methane from animal waste of the swine farms.
The company released the statement right after Beacon Energy Corp. announced the purchase of the plant.
The plant, Smithfield BioEnergy, was built to capture methane from manure provided by Smithfield's Circle Four Farms swine production near Milford, Utah. The facility would convert the methane into bio-methanol, and then convert it along with animal and vegetable fats into bio-diesel fuel.
The company explained that the bio-methanol production plant was not economically feasible and never will be.
The facility was designed using engineering and planning assumptions about the strength of the nutrient content of animal manure based on a government data.
However, the nutrient content of the animal manure produced on Smithfield's farms was 50 percent below published data estimates, which the company attributed to such factors as animal genetic improvement, improved feed conversion, reduced water volume used in production systems and precisely formulated animal diets.
Smithfield is aiming to reduce its environmental footprint across the country. Projects are currently in place at Tar Heel, North Carolina, Plainwell, Michigan, and Green Bay, Wisconsin, to capture and use methane as an alternative and renewable fuel source.
Smithfield Foods Inc. is the world's largest pork processor, hog producer and turkey processor. It processes 27 million hogs and raises 14 million annually.
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