Have you heard about it?. Not to many people have in the western world but in the east you can find these century old systems everywhere. Why? cause they are as smart as hell!!
Biogas is a system that takes organic matter and converts it into a usable gas and rich compost.
The organic matter is fed into the system via an inlet pipe that leads into the main chamber, inside the chamber a natural breakdown of this waste creates methane gas which is captured and piped to where its needed for use. The broken down organic matter exits the other end from an outlet pipe in the form of a potent organic fertilizer.
The captured methane can then be used as an energy source for cooking, heating, lighting, running a generator etc. and can be enough energy needs for a whole household.
The organic matter its fed can be plant matter, vegetable scraps, animal manures or human manure….. HUMAN MANURE!? yepp.!! The human manure aspect is why I’m so intrigued with biogas. Seeing the world through permaculture googles all the time the dysfunctions in our waste and energy systems are obvious, and when boigas came onto my radar it just made so much sense. Could the answers to humanity’s energy problems be lying in our own poo! Its probably our biggest underutilized resource and it’s creating a whole world of other problems because we aren’t using it!
What happens to our human wastes after we wave them goodbye down the porcelain porthole? How many resources are used in the transportation and processing? And where does it end up? Human excrement’s will use about 6 litres of good drinking water. Hundreds maybe thousands of kilometres of pipes and large amounts of energy and water to process. Finally pumped out into the rivers or oceans. Lets not also forget about the misused animal and kitchen household waste that isn’t being used, ending up in landfill breaking down in the same process as in biogas. This gas is not captured and instead escapes into the atmosphere, and with methane being 30 x more potent than co2 this seriously needs addressing.
The Biogas system takes these waste products and generates energy. It does this all onsite requiring little and easily sourced materials. Then gives us a wonderful by-product that we can enrich the soil and life around us afterwards. Now I probably wouldn’t put this compost straight onto my vegetables without processing it through another hot compost/long term compost pile or worm farm but i have seen many farms and households that do without any problems. The natural bacterial breakdown inside the chamber kills 90% of pathogens and with further composting afterwards it will be totally good to go. This is really important in country’s that don’t have proper waste management in place and even for those that do. In Australia we still have beaches and places that are not safe to go because of human and animal excrement. Water born pathogenic diseases from un-treated human and animal feces causing millions of deaths each year.
Human excrement is a massive open loop in our civilization, a huge energy leak. If you think about it we are taking the nutrients and minerals from the land in the form of food and then pumping them out into the rivers and oceans not returning it to the soil as nature intended it.
I think we need to move past this taboo of it being dirty and see it as an important resource, a resource we need now more than ever before.
So could we power our cities and towns on biogas? There is an awful lot of waste waiting to be used. With every human and animal emptying their bowel at least once a day that’s alot of fuel. What do we have to loose trying. I know what we do by not.!