Hurst Boiler — an international manufacturer of a complete line of gas, oil, coal and hybrid biomass fuel-fired steam and hot water boilers since 1967 — is building its third poultry litter-fueled boiler, which will be the first one installed in the United States.

“While we have been carefully evaluating the potential to use litter in our boilers in the U.S. market, one of our solid-fuel boilers in Guatemala began running almost three years ago on 100% litter simply because it was the most cost-effective and reliable fuel,” said Tommy Hurst of Hurst Boiler.  “Since then, two more systems have been installed and are providing steam to poultry facilities using only chicken litter.”

Prestage AgEnergy of Clinton, N.C., is completing a 1600 HP Hurst boiler installation. From fuel-receiving through emissions, the 1600 HP is the first Hurst Boiler system in the United States designed and engineered specifically to be fueled by poultry litter. This cogeneration facility is scheduled to be commissioned mid-year and will support Prestage Farm’s turkey operations.

Litter has posed a challenge for many boiler systems due to its high ash content and ash characteristics.  According to Charlie Coffee, solid-fuel boiler sales for Hurst Boiler, “We are well aware of the many challenges and problems of litter as a fuel, which is why we spent an inordinate amount of time and resources making sure that we had measures in place to ensure success in the U.S. market.”

Chicken litter is significantly different from other biomass fuels. In the past, there were problems using poultry litters in boilers designed for biomass. To mitigate the challenges associated with using this type of fuel, Hurst boiler strategically considered each aspect of the process — from  the way litter arrives at the  facility and the material handling (fuel-receiving) equipment, through the way in which emissions are treated. The result is Hurst’s new poultry-litter-fueled biomass boiler system that successfully overcomes the challenges to deliver an energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable solution.

Hurst’s biomass boiler system allows facilities such as Prestage’s to take advantage of the many unique benefits poultry litter offers. For example, the ash from litter is particularly rich in available potassium and phosphorous.  

“By concentrating these nutrients in ash, these systems can transform the potential risk of phosphorous regulation into an economic asset for companies,” Coffee said.