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Collaborative Success Stories: Not so Cold Turkey


University of Researcher Dr. Yun-sheng “Shawn” Xu uses sustainable technology to heat turkey houses.

What would Thanksgiving be without turkey? Poultry farmers work hard to meet the demands of consumers, but creating the right environment is a challenge. Young birds need a temperature of up to 90 degrees to thrive, while adult turkeys do best at 70 degrees. Unpredictable fuel rates create a business risk for farmers.

For more than a decade, Dr. Xu has worked in the field of geothermal energy, which uses the earth’s constant below-ground temperature of 50-65 degrees to power heating and cooling systems. In 2012, Xu partnered with the Department of Energy and a turkey producer in central Missouri to install specially-designed ground source heat pumps.

Xu, who hopes to create more jobs in rural communities, has licensed the technology and started a local assembly plant. He is also working with the USDA and researchers from the University of Arkansas to expand the project. So far, Xu has heard from poultry producers in Arkansas, Nebraska and Minnesota who are interested in using the technology for their farms.

Dr. Shawn Xu is an associate research professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Missouri.

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Related Initiative(s):
Food for the Future, One Health/One Medicine, Sustainable Energy,