Leave it to a big-dreaming farmer in Lancaster
County, PA, to create a paradigm shift in the agricultural
and heating industries worldwide.
Chicken grower Earl Ray Zimmerman’s passion is all
about sustainability, and he’s climbed a mountain of
nutrient-rich debris to get it.
In Pennsylvania, poultry is the state’s biggest
business. And that means giant piles of bird
waste typically trucked to fields. But that
creates a lot of work, and surface runoff.
While Zimmerman was exploring his options,
a local energy-solutions firm helped him
combine the need for a heating system with
Today, Zimmerman’s two, 500-foot long
chicken houses are heated with a state-of-the-art, bio-fueled hydronic system.
His poultry houses are each equipped to organically
raise 30,000 broilers, from peeps to slaughter in just
five to seven weeks, requiring a lot of chicken feed. Of
course, what goes in must come out.
Birds love it, too
Matt Aungst, co-owner of Total Energy Solutions, the
company that crafted the system’s design, teamed up
with Taco Comfort Solutions to provide the engineering
brainpower to get the BTUs where they need to be
using KV series sensorless pumps.
Depending on conditions, one house can call for up
to 600 MBH at any time, though an average winter
heat load is typically 200-300MBH/house.
When a bird flock leaves every six weeks,
Zimmerman removes the chicken litter for storage.
An auger feeds dry manure from the hopper into 1. 5
million BTU biofuel boiler, while another removes ash
remnant from its base.
The heart of the distribution system is also in the
mechanical building. Two redundant pumps and their
VFD counterparts sit side by side, plumbed in parallel.
Above, a suspended Taco 4903 air and dirt separator
keeps the water lines clean and quiet; a 125-gallon
Taco expansion tank smoothes the loop out.
Three-inch, pre-insulated PEX water lines disappear
underground through the concrete floor to a distribution manifold between the two chicken houses.
Hi-tech, down on th’ farm
Taco SKV3009 SelfSensing pumps include a motor-mounted VFD to deliver precise flow and pressure.
The pumps accurately respond to changes in system
demand with no need for pressure sensors. If a main
supply valve to one of the houses is closed, the pump
senses the change and ramps down according to
lower demand. Seconds later, the pressure gauge
drops on the supply side.
Inside each chicken house, eight unit heaters hang
from the ceiling, providing water-to-air heat exchange.
Automatically, the pumps react to the specific call for
Before the SKV3009 SelfSensing pumps were
shipped, the VFDs were programmed in our Cranston,
RI factory, according to data collected for specific flow
rates, head pressures and system characteristics.
“A specific program enables the pumps to ‘know’
exactly what speed to run at any given time. You
get tremendous energy savings this way,” continued
Aungst. When in design phase, Aungst calculated a
Delta-T of 25°F.
The seven-and-a-half horsepower pumps are each
programmed to supply a maximum of 125 GPM at 85
feet of head. Pump A runs as “duty,” leaving pump B
for backup. After several days of run time, the pumps
automatically switch roles.
For best use of mechanical room space, the distribution piping incorporates Taco’s Plus Two multi-purpose
valves which combine all the valve functions normally
required on the discharge side of a centrifugal pump.
This includes shut off, check, balancing and flow
Inspired agriculture systems have the ability to
produce more food with less cost and lower environmental impact. That’s smart farming.
Self-Sensing Pumps Win Approval On This Chicken Farm
Above: The roof of one of
Zimmerman’s 500-foot long
chicken houses is adorned with a
72 k W photovoltaic array, just one of many steps he’s taken to
make his organic poultry operation more sustainable. The heat
source for his chicken houses is a manure-burning boiler located
in a remote building. Three-inch water lines run underground to
supply both houses with a maximum of 600 MBH each.
Inset: At the pumps – Matt Aungst, who designed the distribution portion of the project tests redundancy of the two pumps
that serve the entire project. Pump A runs as “duty,” leaving
pump B for backup. After 84 hours of run-time, the pumps
automatically switch roles.