Initial trials have revealed that thousands of tonnes of used bedding produced annually by stables could be used as a source of biomass energy.
Research carried out by Alnwick-based re:heat has shown the strong potential for recovering and recycling used horse bedding as a sustainable fuel source for the furnaces used in the bedding drying process at manufacturer Bedmax’s factory in Patchington, Hampshire.
The move could see the firm, which is headquartered at Detchant, near Belford, replace its coal-powered drying furnaces, which are used to produce more than two million 20kg bags of dust-free bedding annually, with new low-emissions technology.
This could pave the way for Bedmax to reduce its long-term reliance on fossil fuels, saving hundreds of thousands of pounds in energy costs and helping to reduce the amount of bedding which is disposed of at the end of its useful life.
Sample testing and analysis undertaken by re:heat staff in Austria as part of a BRISK (Biofuels Research Infrastructure for Sharing Knowledge) project has confirmed that the used bedding, when mixed with woodchip, has good combustion properties with low-emissions compared to the coal used at present.
Further work is now being undertaken to identify potential volumes and establish the overall economic viability of the project, but Bedmax’s managing director Tim Smalley has been encouraged by the initial results.
“This could not only deliver significant financial savings over the long-term but also reduce our carbon footprint,” he said. “It would also provide significant savings for the racing yards, as they would no longer need to send all their waste for composting.”