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Organizational and economic modeling of an anaerobic digestion system to treat cattle manure and produce electrical energy in Argentina's feedlot sector

Castelao Caruana, María Eugenia
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.208 pp. 1613-1621
anaerobic digestion, animal manure management, bioenergy, cattle manure, cost effectiveness, economic sustainability, electric power, energy, farms, feedlots, feedstocks, infrastructure, livestock, power generation, supply chain, transportation, Argentina
This study identifies the main factors that affect the economic and organizational viability of a representative power generation project that applies an anaerobic digestion technology and uses cattle manure from feedlots as feedstock, in Argentina. Considering users' needs and their organizational process, as well as the potential impact of this technology upon their performance, the results show that the viability of bioenergy systems heavily depends on the infrastructure installed along the whole supply chain and on the organizational changes applied in the collection and transportation stages of manure. They also highlight three important aspects to assess the economic viability of such projects: feedlots' production, scale and efficiency; organizational routines; and the impact of the project itself on the overall performance of the production unit. These are crucial factors when assessing the use of manure for generating energy, and they question the idea of anaerobic digestion as a cost-effective technology for manure management and energy generation, in farms of different sizes and which produce different type of livestock in Argentina.