Friday, February 29, 2008

Home Bio-Gas Digesters, and other Home Energy

Generating your own energy at home is becoming more popular. Mainly because it is becoming more economical, and provides a sense of energy independence that is otherwise lacking. Take the home biogas digester in the photo:
Sintex Industries, a plastics and textiles manufacturer in Gujarat, India, is betting it can find profit in human waste. Its new biogas digester turns human excrement, cow dung, or kitchen garbage into fuel that can be used for cooking or generating electricity, simultaneously addressing two of India's major needs: energy and sanitation.

Sintex's digester uses bacteria to break down waste into sludge, much like a septic tank. In the process, the bacteria emit gases, mostly methane. But instead of being vented into the air, they are piped into a storage canister.

A one-cubic-meter digester, primed with cow dung to provide bacteria, can convert the waste generated by a four-person family into enough gas to cook all its meals and provide sludge for fertilizer. A model this size costs about $425 but will pay for itself in energy savings in less than two years. That's still a high price for most Indians, even though the government recently agreed to subsidize about a third of the cost for these family-sized units. "We want to create a new industry for portable sanitation in India that's not available now," says S.B. Dangayach, Sintex's managing director. ___Source

The most popular current method of home energy generation is photovoltaics. Home wind turbines are also becoming popular in high-wind locations. Home biodiesel and biogas fermentation and synthesis are less common, but perhaps that is because no one has made them easy for homeowners.

Cattle farmers are more likely to begin finding ways to make energy and fertilizer from farm waste and animal manure. Expect ranchers to do the same. The name of the game is profitability, and that means using what you have, and making the most of it.

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