If you’ve visited a resort on the island of St. Lucia, it may be hard to imagine Mr. Eli’s pig farm operating just a few miles away, struggling to keep the lights on and managing never-ending amounts of pig waste.  A team of six UTC engineering students knew if they could help Mr. Eli, they could help a lot of farmers in St. Lucia facing the same problems.

Dr. Phillip Kazemerksy’s senior design students Zach Ball, Steven Goodman, David Wagner, Joseph Burchfield, Brandon Osbonlighter, and Jennessa Stricklin explain that before they took on this project, Mr. Eli used a working biodigester that took in pig waste to produce methane.  The team was tasked with finding a way to convert the pig manure to electrical power.  To retrieve the methane, they plan to install a system of pipes and controls to collect the methane from the existing biodigester with the help of a gas-powered modified generator.

“This will allow Mr. Eli to run a freezer and a few lights, enough to keep the slaughtered pigs cold before they are taken to market,” Ball said.

Mr. Eli’s situation was discovered by Chattanooga-based Caribbean SEA, which “works throughout the Caribbean with local partners to empower local youth to take care of their water, from the Ridge to the Reef.”  Assisted by a grant from the ENVIRON Foundation,  Caribbean SEA is working with UTC and the farmers in the Mabouya Valley to design the most appropriate way to harness electricity.

“These farmers face expensive and unreliable power,” said Wagner.  “Using pig manure prevents water pollution.  This project could indirectly improve water quality for this entire island.”

Currently, the pig manure washes into the streams where people wash clothes, bathe, and get their drinking water, according to Caribbean SEA.

According to Kazemersky, some of the senior design students plan to go to St. Lucia this summer to implement the “Pig Poo” design.

 

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