Local farmers and ones from across the state are getting a closer look at technology that can turn poultry litter into fuel.
The first litter converter in the state was on display Thursday at the Farmers Expo in Fishersville. While it's still in a research and development stage, one farmer says it promises a lot.
"Well I've been hearing rumors about it and I've never actually seen it until today, and I'm just curious as to how it works," says poultry farmer John Shank.
He's talking about a big machine called "a pyrolysis" that converts chicken litter into fertilizer and heating oil.
"Yeah, well I think the first thing is that people look at it and think it's an expensive unit. They sometimes think there's no way it can be bought and there's no way it will pay for itself," says Oren Heatwole, who is showing the unit.
However, as farmers stop by, Heatwole gives them a full rundown on the device and farmers like Reid Mackey are taking a closer look
"Very interesting, very interesting. It has potential," says Mackey.
While it's not on the market yet, Heatwole hopes to generate interest at the Expo.
Virginia Tech is trying to gain the attention of investors who, at a certain point, will put the converter on the market and available to poultry farmers in Virginia. Heatwole looks forward to that.
Oil taken from the converter can be used to heat poultry houses as well as cut down on transportation costs and save farmers a lot of money.
"When you explain to them how much oil we get from it, how much litter goes in and how much oil and fertilizer value of the char that comes out of it, all of the sudden their eyes brighten," says Heatwole.
This new technology provides farmers an environmentally friendly way to operate.
Later, if it's approved, it could be used as a form of energy for people to use to heat their homes.