Sustainable waste disposal is one of the many considerations you have to make when planning an off-grid lifestyle. Luckily, it’s much easier nowadays to get rid of organic waste without damaging the environment. In fact, you can use your garbage to generate extra power for your household and this is all thanks to the biogas digester.
Read on to find out how this handy invention can help you create a more sustainable off-grid home.
How does it work?
There are different types of biogas digester systems to choose from based on size, type, input, and output. Regardless of these differences, they all work the same, and we have nature to thank as the inspiration behind the mechanism.
The principle is simple: pour organic waste into an “inlet box” which is filled with water, and once the two mix together the organic material is broken down by natural microorganisms within the internal anaerobic environment.
The resulting liquid is released into the main chamber where it goes through a process called anaerobic digestion. From here, biogas is released to produce energy for cooking, lighting, and heating.
Biological breakdown in a Biogas Digester
The biogas digester contains microorganisms that ferment the organic matter that you put into the inlet. This fermentation process happens in four different stages that are designed to transform organic matter into biogas.
- First, the organic matter goes through the hydrolysis stage where the breakdown of carbohydrates and other organic polymers happens. This is in preparation for the next stage known as acidogenic bacteria.
- Acidogenic bacteria transforms amino acids and sugars into organic acids, hydrogen, carbon dioxide and ammonia.
- Next, you have acetogenic bacteria that transform the organic acids into carbon dioxide, ammonia, hydrogen, and acetic acid.
- During the final stage, methanogens transform the aforementioned elements into methane and carbon dioxide. This is what you see as the blue flammable substance that provides sustainable energy for your home.
To build or not to build
Generally, it’s better to purchase a ready-made biogas digester instead of building one from scratch. That’s because a prefabricated biodigester comes with its own heating source, thus saving on electrical costs. It also acts as a “greenhouse” to provide passive heating. That way, you don’t have to spend money to heat it up from the outside.
So long as it’s placed in an area with plenty of sunlight, a biogas digester should work flawlessly to process organic matter into biogas.
Not forgetting that homemade biogas digesters are high maintenance and they don’t produce as much gas as professionally made models.
Now, if you want to experiment on a small scale just to prove the concept, you can always build a small biogas digester. It won’t produce a lot of gas and it’ll probably cause more problems down the road but it’s a good start.
If you want to use biogas to power an entire household, then you should invest in something that’s going to work hassle-free for years to come.
What goes into a biogas digester?
You can feed your biogas digester with food waste, grass clippings, and even cow manure. Just make sure to purchase a low-profile unit that’s waist-high or lower, so that it’s easier to feed.
Benefits of a Biogas Digester
Saves on electricity costs
With a biogas digester, you can take regular food waste from your kitchen and turn it into usable energy for your home! Once the system accumulates enough biogas, it produces a flammable substance that you can use to power your kitchen appliances, lights, and HVAC.
Produces high-quality manure
Another useful component of the biodigester is the slurry from the digested material. This odorless substance provides rich, organic manure for your garden. It comes out of the biogas plant through fermentation and can be used to fertilize vegetables, crops, and fruits.
Easy to use
The main system is actually super easy to use. Simply open up the faucet, throw your waste into the inlet and the system will do the rest, granted it’s already set up and ready to work. Within a few hours, you’ll have gas ready for cooking and any other energy application.
A biodigester enables you to use recyclable waste as energy. This helps to minimize waste and prevents harmful gases from polluting the atmosphere.
A biogas digester creates an anaerobic environment that allows for the release of methane and carbon dioxide gases. The result is a flammable biogas that can be used as an energy source. In a nutshell, biogas is the organic result of decomposed organic waste.
Salman Zafar is an ecopreneur, consultant, advisor, speaker and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection, conservation and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe. Salman is the Founder of EcoMENA, a popular voluntary organization based in Qatar. He is also the Founder and CEO of BioEnergy Consult, a reputed consulting firm active in biomass, waste-to-energy and waste management segments.
Salman is a professional environmental writer with more than 350 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass environmental awareness in different parts of the world.
Salman Zafar can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org