UI biologist receives grant to study acoustic management of swine odor

May 25, 2000

A University of Iowa biologist has received a grant to study whether sound waves can alleviate odors generated at large pork production facilities.

Heartland Pork Enterprises, Inc. of Iowa Falls and Caviforce Technologies, Inc. of Des Moines have jointly provided a one-year, $87,000 grant to the laboratory of David R. Soll, UI professor of biological sciences. The grant is to explore the application of new acoustic technologies for managing gas production in pork production facilities, with the added benefit of potentially eliminating odors. In addition, the UI Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing has provided $10,000 in matching funds.

A long-time leader in pork production, Iowa for many years has experienced a reduction in the number of hog farmers and a corresponding increase in the number of large-scale, pork facilities. The concentration of swine processing at the facilities has resulted in the release of noxious gases from decomposing animal wastes contained in deep pits or lagoons. Officials from Heartland and Caviforce intend that the grant be part of their effort to be progressive and good rural neighbors by alleviating the environmental impact of large-scale swine production.

Bruce Rastetter, president and CEO of Heartland, said, "I'm excited about the opportunity this technology may present to the pork industry, in general, our company, in particular, and our Midwestern neighbors to defuse some of the controversy that this change in rural American has caused." Heartland, with facilities located in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, is the ninth-largest pork producer in the nation.

Soll, who is internationally known for his cell motility research, says that the new technology, if successful, may dramatically reduce odors and expand the nutrient value of hog manure used in fertilizer.

"Most current methods to control these gases involve odor masking agents or simply covering storage facilities to reduce gas emission," Soll says. "The grant will fund research to identify and put into use an environmentally safe and economical solution. The research will utilize acoustic technology, which has the potential to drive chemical reactions and change the offending gases and waste into a safe, effective and locally-produced fertilizer."

Soll noted that the university would receive patent rights for any technology developed during the study. Prior grants from Caviforce Technologies, Inc. have supported projects in Soll's laboratory aimed at discovering new biological, medical and agricultural applications for emerging acoustic technologies.
-end-
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University of Iowa

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