AMES, Iowa --- Last week another swine barn explosion left one person critically injured. At this time, exact details of the incident are unknown. However, agricultural engineers from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach urge all livestock producers and commercial manure applicators to use extreme caution when pumping manure.
Deep-pit manure systems, often associated with swine production, raise a particular concern. Liquid manure in pits undergoes slow decomposition, which creates several gases including methane and hydrogen sulfide, both of which can create dangerous situations. The rate of gas release from the manure can be drastically increased when the manure is agitated (stirred) during pumping. This increase is especially true for hydrogen sulfide, which can have a lethal paralyzing effect.
In addition to the concern about gas release from pumping and agitation is the concern about rapid gas release in pits with excessive foam. It is believed that pits with substantial foam prevent the normal release of methane from the deep-pit facilities. Captured methane can be released quickly when the foam is disturbed by agitation or other activities such as power-washing. The rapid release of methane mixing with fresh air can create an explosive mixture. If this mixture comes into contact with an ignition source, it can cause a flash fire or explosion.
Manure handlers should follow these steps to minimize risk of injuries and flash fires:
Strict safety protocols along with proper ventilation and agitation practices can minimize the risk of flash fires and explosions during manure pumping. A video discussing safety practices for pumping from deep-pits can be found at: http://vimeo.com/15463270.
Additional Contacts :
Kris Kohl, ISU Extension Area Agricultural Engineer, 712-732-5056, firstname.lastname@example.org
Greg Brenneman, ISU Extension Area Agricultural Engineer, 319-337-2145, email@example.com
Kapil Arora, ISU Extension Area Agricultural Engineer, 515-382-6551, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jay Harmon, ISU Extension Agricultural Engineer, 515-294-0554, email@example.com