Livestock Manure Management and Biogas Production for Emission Reduction

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Manure management and biogas production involve the collection, treatment, and utilization of livestock manure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create valuable bioenergy. Biogas, a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide, is produced through anaerobic digestion, a biological process that breaks down organic matter in the absence of oxygen. This biogas can then be used as a renewable energy source for electricity generation, heating, or transportation fuel.

Impact on climate action

Manure Management and Biogas Production revolutionize emission reduction in livestock farming. By capturing methane from manure and converting it into biogas, it mitigates greenhouse gas emissions. This innovation curtails methane release, a potent contributor to climate change, fostering sustainable agricultural practices and advancing global efforts in combating climate change.


This approach integrates several key technologies and concepts:

  • Anaerobic Digestion: Manure is placed in airtight digesters where microorganisms break down the organic matter, producing biogas and a nutrient-rich digestate.
  • Biogas Upgrading: Biogas can be upgraded to biomethane, a high-purity methane gas, which can be injected into natural gas grids or used as a transportation fuel.
  • Manure Separation and Treatment: Separating solid and liquid fractions of manure can facilitate more efficient handling and treatment, reducing odors and nutrient runoff.
  • Nutrient Recovery: Technologies are being developed to recover nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, from manure, creating valuable fertilizers and reducing nutrient pollution.
  • Composting: Composting manure can transform it into a stable, odor-free soil amendment, providing valuable organic matter and nutrients to agricultural soils.

TRL : 7-9 (Anaerobic digestion and biogas production are mature technologies with widespread commercial implementation. Innovations focus on optimizing processes and developing integrated systems).

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Advanced Anaerobic Digestion Systems: New digester designs and process optimization techniques are improving biogas yields, reducing digester footprint, and enhancing process efficiency.
  • Co-Digestion of Manure with Other Organic Wastes: Combining manure with other organic wastes, such as food waste or agricultural residues, in anaerobic digesters can boost biogas production and create synergies for waste management.
  • Biogas Purification and Upgrading Technologies: Innovative technologies, such as membrane separation and pressure swing adsorption, are being developed to upgrade biogas to biomethane more efficiently.
  • Nutrient Recovery Technologies: Advanced technologies, such as struvite precipitation and membrane filtration, are being used to recover valuable nutrients from manure, creating high-quality fertilizers.
  • Smart Manure Management Systems: Sensors, data analytics, and automation are being integrated into manure management systems to optimize collection, storage, treatment, and utilization processes.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Anaerobic Digestion Optimization
  • Biogas Upgrading Innovations
  • Enhanced Manure Separation Techniques
  • Nutrient Recovery Technologies
  • Advanced Anaerobic Digester Designs
  • Co-Digestion Synergies
  • Next-Gen Biogas Purification
  • Smart Manure Management Systems
  • Integrated Biogas Solutions
  • Novel Digestate Applications
  • Biomethane Injection Technologies
  • Sustainable Fertilizer Production
  • Automated Manure Handling Systems
  • Biogas Yield Maximization
  • Manure-to-Energy Integration

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Systemiq:
    • Technology Focus: Systemiq likely concentrates on advanced technologies and systems for sustainable waste management, including manure, and biogas production. Their solutions might involve innovative processes for converting organic waste into valuable resources like biogas and biofertilizers.
    • Uniqueness: Systemiq could stand out for its holistic approach to waste management, integrating cutting-edge technologies with sustainability principles. They might emphasize circular economy models, aiming to minimize waste and maximize resource efficiency.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments might include agricultural operations, livestock farms, and food processing industries, where effective manure management is essential for environmental compliance and resource optimization.
  • Nature Energy:
    • Technology Focus: Nature Energy is likely focused on biogas production from organic waste, including manure, agricultural residues, and food waste. Their expertise may lie in biogas plant design, operation, and optimization, maximizing energy recovery and environmental benefits.
    • Uniqueness: Nature Energy could be unique for its specialization in biogas production and its commitment to renewable energy solutions. They might offer comprehensive services, from feasibility studies to plant construction and ongoing operation.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments could include agricultural businesses, municipalities, and industries with organic waste streams, seeking to reduce their environmental footprint and generate renewable energy.
  • Biolectric:
    • Technology Focus: Biolectric likely specializes in innovative technologies for converting livestock manure into biogas and electricity. Their solutions might involve proprietary anaerobic digestion systems optimized for maximum energy recovery and minimal environmental impact.
    • Uniqueness: Biolectric could stand out for its focus on electricity generation from biogas derived from livestock manure. They might offer modular and scalable systems tailored to the needs of different farm sizes and types.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments are likely concentrated in the livestock farming industry, including dairy farms, hog operations, and poultry producers, where manure management is a significant challenge and renewable energy production presents an opportunity for additional revenue streams.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Wageningen University & Research:
    • Technology Enhancements: Wageningen University & Research is pioneering innovative techniques for manure management and biogas production to reduce emissions from livestock. They are developing advanced anaerobic digestion processes and biorefinery technologies to maximize the recovery of valuable resources from manure while minimizing environmental impact.
    • Uniqueness of Research: The research at Wageningen University & Research encompasses a holistic approach that considers the entire manure management cycle, from collection and treatment to utilization. They are exploring novel strategies such as nutrient recovery, biochar production, and microbial conversion to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and create value-added products from livestock waste.
    • End-use Applications: The technologies developed at Wageningen University & Research have diverse applications in agriculture, energy, and waste management sectors. Biogas produced from anaerobic digestion can be used for electricity generation, heat production, or vehicle fuel, while nutrient-rich digestate can be used as organic fertilizer or soil amendment.
  • Cornell University:
    • Technology Enhancements: Cornell University researchers are at the forefront of developing sustainable solutions for manure management and biogas production on dairy farms. They are investigating novel anaerobic digestion systems, such as plug-flow and dry fermentation, to optimize biogas production efficiency and reduce methane emissions from livestock waste.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Cornell’s research integrates engineering, environmental science, and agricultural expertise to address the complex challenges of manure management in dairy operations. They are exploring innovative approaches such as co-digestion with food waste, algae cultivation, and bioelectrochemical systems to enhance biogas yield and valorize organic residues.
    • End-use Applications: The technologies developed at Cornell University offer practical solutions for dairy farmers to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and improve farm sustainability. Biogas produced from manure can be used to offset energy costs, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and contribute to climate change mitigation efforts.
  • University of California, Davis:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at UC Davis are advancing the science of manure management and biogas production to reduce emissions from livestock operations. They are developing innovative digester designs, process optimization strategies, and biorefinery technologies to maximize the environmental and economic benefits of anaerobic digestion.
    • Uniqueness of Research: UC Davis’s research focuses on tailoring manure management solutions to the specific needs and constraints of different livestock production systems. They are investigating scalable, cost-effective approaches for small-scale farms, as well as integrated manure management systems for large-scale operations to minimize environmental impact and enhance resource efficiency.
    • End-use Applications: The research outcomes from UC Davis have implications for the dairy, swine, poultry, and cattle industries worldwide. By implementing sustainable manure management practices and biogas production technologies, livestock producers can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air and water quality, and create new revenue streams from renewable energy and bioproducts.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Anaerobic digestion and biogas production from livestock manure are widely implemented commercially:

  • Large-Scale Biogas Plants: Many large-scale biogas plants utilize manure as a primary feedstock, generating renewable energy and reducing emissions from livestock farms.
  • On-Farm Biogas Systems: Smaller-scale biogas systems are being adopted by individual farms to manage manure, generate energy for on-farm use, and reduce their environmental impact.
  • Biogas Upgrading and Injection: In some regions, upgraded biomethane from manure is injected into natural gas grids, providing a renewable alternative to fossil natural gas.