Technology Type - Centrifuge

Technology Strengths,Weaknesses and Critical Indicators

Centrifuge Technologies remove the non-dissolved particles from the waste stream typically resulting in a lower solid liquid that will not plug equipment or irrigation quality “tea water” depending on whether the technology is used with or without polymer:

  • Produces a stackable solid which is high in phosphorus and with significant amounts of organic nitrogen.
  • There is significant variation of energy use depending on the site and by technology
  • There is significant variation of operational intensity depending on site, use of polymer, and by technology
  • There is significant variation of cost depending on site, use of polymer, and by technology
  • Can be used with or without polymer. Recovery rates and impact on critical indicators are better when used with polymer.
  • Proven technology for nitrogen recovery, phosphorous recovery, storage reduction, GHG reduction, and odor control

image/svg+xml Nitrogen Recovery Phosphorus Recovery Storage Reduction GHG Reduction Odor Control Pathogen Reduction Negative Positive NEAT MATRIX - Peer Reviewed P - Documented D - Expert Opinion E P D E P D E

Overall Summary

Primary Application

  • Dairy farms with over 1,500 cows or smaller dairies with a need for fine solids and phosphorus separation.
  • Sand bedding should be removed prior to centrifugation to avoid premature equipment wear.
  • Recommended for manure slurries with total solids concentrations 6% TS or less.

Economic/Return on Investment Considerations

  • The capital cost of the technology is in the medium range compared to other solid liquid separation technologies and in the low range for phosphorus and fine solids separation equipment.
  • Operating costs are relatively low, comprised primarily of preventative maintenance and electricity.
  • Using polymer to enhance phosphorus separation increases the operating costs, but the extent is variable depending on the polymer dosage and cost.

Industry Uptake

  • It is estimated that approximately 50 systems are installed on dairy farms in the U.S.
  • Applications of the technology are primarily for phosphorus and fine solids removal from liquid manure.

Technology Maturity

  • Centrifuge is a commercially available, mature technology.
  • Worldwide, thousands of centrifuge systems are installed for concentrating and dewatering solids in municipal, industrial and agricultural waste streams.
  • Systems can be configured with or without polymer. Systems using polymer have higher phosphorus and solids removal rates, but with a significant increase in operating costs.

Primary Benefits

  • The primary benefit of centrifugation is the removal of phosphorus and solids from liquid manure.
  • Centrifuge systems can remove 40 to 60% of phosphorus and total solids without polymer and up to 80% of the phosphorus with polymer additions.
  • Total nitrogen removal from the liquid manure is in the range of 20 to 40%, with lower end without polymer and higher end with polymer.
  • Due to the removal of solids, the volume of the liquid manure (centrate) is reduced by 10 to 20% following centrifugation.
  • Removal of solids from the liquid manure reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) and odor emissions, as less organic matter is held under anaerobic conditions during storage.
  • Pathogens are to some extent partitioned into the solids, thereby reducing overall pathogen count in the liquid, although pathogens are not destroyed in the process.

Secondary Benefits

  • Centrifuge removes finer manure solids compared to other primary solid-liquid separators.
  • Manure fiber has been used by many dairies as a bedding material.
  • Relatively low moisture content coupled with high carbon, phosphorus, and nitrogen content makes separated manure fiber a valuable fertilizer, soil amendment, and/or compost input.
  • Coarse and fine solids removal, achieved by centrifuge, is an essential component of clean water systems.

How it works

  • The manure slurry is pumped into the centrifuge where it enters the bowl and is exposed to high centrifugal forces resulting from the bowl of the machine spinning at 2,000 to 4,000 RPM. Due to the high-speed rotation and centrifugal forces, manure solids are forced to the outermost edge of the bowl and are moved to the discharge by a stationary scroll or auger. Liquid flows through the machine and is discharged.
  • Centrifuges operate in batch, semi-continuous and continuous modes depending on style and manufacturer.
  • For batch or semi-continuous operations, the centrifuge will stop or slow to allow for the discharge of capture manure solids.
  • Separated manure solids are typically referred to as manure solids or manure fiber and are generally storage as a solid prior to reuse as bedding, land application, or export for other purposes.
  • Liquid effluent from the centrifuge is called centrate or ‘tea water’ and moves on to liquid storage or further treatment.

Pretreatment and/or Post-treatment Required

  • The only required pretreatment is sand separation for sand bedded dairy farms.
  • Some systems may have grit separation installed beforehand to remove larger debris such as stone, concrete, and metal that could damage the centrifuge.
  • Post-treatment requires storage of the products, a thin manure liquid and a stackable manure solid.


  • Limitations of the technology are primarily operation cost (energy, maintenance, and chemicals) and complexity.
  • Centrifugation is not considered an effective tool for separating nitrogen or potassium.

Other Considerations

  • Successful operation of a centrifuge requires a dedicated maintenance plan.

Frear, C., Ma, J., Yorgey, G., (2018). Approaches to nutrient recovery from digested dairy manure. Washington State University Extension, Pullman WA. EM112E.


Hamilton D., Cantrell, K., Chastain, J., Ludwig, A., Meinen, R., Ogejo, J., Porter, J. (2016). Manure treatment technologies recommendations from the manure treatment technologies expert panel to the Chesapeake Bay program’s water quality goal implementation team. CBP/TRS – 311 – 16.


Hjorth, M., Christensen, K. V., Christensen, M. L., & Sommer, S. G. (2010). Solid–liquid separation of animal slurry in theory and practice: A review. In Sustainable Agriculture Volume (30) p.153-180.


Holly, M. A., Larson, R. A., Powell, J. M., Ruark, M. D., & Aguirre-Villegas, H. (2017). Greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions from digested and separated dairy manure during storage and after land application. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 239, 410-419.


Liu, Z., Carroll, Z., Long, S., Roa-Espinosa, A., Runge, T. (2017). Centrifuge separation effect on bacterial indicator reduction in dairy manure Journal of Environmental Management Volume 191 268-274.


Møller, H., Hansen, J., Sørensen, C. (2007). Nutrient recovery by solid-liquid separation and methane productivity of solids. American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers ISSN 0001−2351 Vol. 50(1): 193−200.


Neerackal, G. M., Ndegwa, P. M., Joo, H. S., Wang, X., Harrison, J. H., Heber, A. J., ... & Frear, C. (2015). Effects of anaerobic digestion and solids separation on ammonia emissions from stored and land applied dairy manure. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 226(9), 301.

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