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Neat biogas generator

John Robb seems to be de-emphasizing war and re-focusing on resilience. Here he is on bio-gas generators:

What’s the bottom line?

  • This [bio-gas generator] system costs about $750 in materials, plus labor (mostly digging a hole and pouring concrete).
  • It generates 20 hours of cooking fuel a day (or 5 hours of electricity generation) per day, plus fertilizer.
  • It operates forever.

Sounds like it would pay for itself in less than a year where I live. If it works in the winter! Does anybody know if it will? And what about code enforcement?

And I like this frame:

 Don’t Throw Away Wealth

What’s the point of this example?

With some creative thinking, it’s possible to turn waste into wealth at the local level.

You can do this yourself (above ground) or with some neighbors (below ground) or you can contract for it.

If the community has the willpower, a municipal sewage system can use large biogas digesters to generate electricity — likely more than enough to operate a sewage treatment facility and power some community buildings.

Such a lot of interesting work going on these days!

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Submitted by Lex on

however, his foray into resiliency often leaves a little to be desired in my book. I've noted that he puts out ideas without discussing their downsides; this does a disservice to his readers who may try it without knowing the full cost-benefit equation.

It sometimes irks me that he puts out basic information from any number of beginning permaculture or gardening books and (sort of) acts like he's made a discovery of some sort. This ties in with my first statement, because the downsides to some things he writes about are as well known as the techniques so i have to assume that he knows about them and chooses not to include them.

I can think of once when he pontificated on a technique that i've used quite a bit (and know others who have too). I simply pointed out that there are some issues and those issues (insects) are why i use the technique only for ornamentals. Mysteriously, my comment was never approved.

John Robb's picture
Submitted by John Robb on

Hey Lex. Sorry for the confusion on this. I did approve your comment. I'm just slow. I don't approve comments until the morning of the day after the letter goes out. JR

John Robb's picture
Submitted by John Robb on

It does need heat to operate during a NE winter. That's why I'd like to see one that combines hot water generation and septic tank in one package. Some of the hot water generated would heat the system to optimal digesting temp.


Submitted by lambert on

With the hot water generated coming from an external source?

Seems like a lot of the season extension work done with green houses would feed into this area (not that I'm an expert....) Like manure beds, even air circulation if you've got a very big sunny side of our house.

Would be very useful in NE especially because of our utter dependence on outside sources for fuel. Heat in the winter is a lot closer to the base of Maslow's hierarchy than automobile transport.

I wonder if this would work on the municipal scale. Maybe with MSW?