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The mystery of the explosive pig poop foam
Industrial hog farms all over the country are being hit by a wave of thick gray explosive foam bubbling up from waste pits. And no one knows why it's happening.
Thu, May 16, 2013 at 5:17 PM
This is what pig poop foam looks like. (Photo: David Schmidt/Vimeo)
The gray foam is oozing up from waste pits that lie under the pens where hogs are held in industrial hog farms. The foam captures and holds methane and other flammable gasses given off by the pig waste, making for a potentially dangerous and explosive situation. There have been multiple explosions on farms blamed on the foam; in one instance it's believed that sparks from a welding project fell into the foam and ignited the gasses trapped within.
Currently there is no recognized cause of the foam, though it's suspected that feeding pigs leftover corn mush from the distilling process might have something to do with it.
The only thing that's been found to combat the foam is a low-level application of antibiotics to the waste pits.
Davis Schmidt, a researcher at the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering at the University of Minnesota, put together a comprehensive scholarly presentation about the foam pits that's a good watch for anyone who wants to learn more.
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