Manure Mania

Human consumption led to a decline of fossil fuel and other resources whereas on the other hand there is Β increasing pollution of the environment like waste dumps, groundwater contamination and eutrophication. The buzzwords SUSTAINABILITY and RECYCLING are ubiquitous but misleading. Most Western countries separate their wastes in plastic, glass and organic. However, most of it just gets burned or used for landfill.

A good solution for implementing a real recycling system was brought to the Peace Valley by Thomas Henry Culhane. He is part of the project Solar Cities Bigas which allows consumers all over the world to treat their kitchen (and if wanted toilet) wastes to receive liquid fertilizer and biogas. Sounds like magic, but it is just simple biology and chemistry. Astonishingly there is not a lot of equipment needed.

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During his three days in Jordan Thomas assembled three biogas systems. Two ready made commercial versions by the company Homebiogas and one system made from the scratch with the material he found around the area. The latter allows people in regions without access to the world market due to monetary or logistic reasons to build their own homebiogas system to give value to their wastes.

Thomas refers to the system as a living being. It has a mouth, the funnel, where the food (waste) enters the digester. The digester is like a huge stomach including the intestines with their rich and diverse bacteria population. And like any other animal or human it has to get rid of the end products so it has a rectum for the gaseous fraction and an urinator for the liquids.

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Under anaerobic conditions bacteria decompose the organic waste. There is no pre-treatment needed. If you for example ground or cut the organic waste before you insert it in the digester, it would just speed up the initial starting period but not alter the gas and fertiliser production pattern.

Assembling the commercial system resembles building a IKEA bed. Several labelled boxes, metal sticks, folie and screwdrivers are included. The only difference is that homebiogas delivers all the needed screws without a single one missing.

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Like other animals the biogas system also has a skeleton. After the construction of the frame, the digester sack is added. A pipe connects the funnel to the stomach from which two pipes leave. One pipe leads to the gas balloon which is collecting the produced gas, the other one is the pipe for the liquid fertiliser.

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The D.I.Y. version of the biogas system needs some practical skills and improvisation. The holes in the tank need to be melted in with a hot metal piece. After connecting the tubes, soap water is spread all over the tank to ensure that the tank is entirley sealed. The moment oxygen is entering the system, the anaerobic fermentation is disturbed and the gas production hindered.

 

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We are all happy for the opportunity to be part of this project, as it is a milestone for sustainable waste treatment, gas and energy production as well as obtaining fertilisers in Jordan. Inshallah, in the next months more systems will be spread over the country, especially in the refugee camps where this technology is needed the most.

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