Development of an Affordable Family-Scale Biogas GeneratorEPA Grant Number: SU834330
Title: Development of an Affordable Family-Scale Biogas Generator
Investigators: Meyer, W. Craig , Judy, Kaitlin , Layne, Zachary , Mehta, Daniel , Minkovsky, Alexandra , Nefcy, Dillion , Nemeth, Amy , Oster, Brendan , Parisi, Nicholas , Pracher, Mark , Shoplyansky, Jessica , Woods, Jordan
Current Investigators: Meyer, W. Craig , Judy, Kaitlin , Layne, Zachary , Mehta, Daniel , Minkovsky, Alexandra , Nefcy, Dillion , Nemeth, Amy , Oster, Brendan , Parisi, Nicholas , Pracher, Mark , Shoplyansky, Jessica , Woods, Jordan , Young, Chelsea
Institution: Pierce College
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: August 15, 2009 through August 14, 2010
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2009) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Agriculture , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Awards , Sustainability
We will design a simple scalable biodigester system that will: a) generate enough biogas to cook a meal per day for a family of 6, b) be constructed of local or scrap materials, c) be flexible in the type of wastes it uses and d) be inexpensive enough to be affordable by the least affluent members of society with no technical training. The digester will be disseminated as a kit containing components not readily available and understandable assembly instructions with information regarding the best waste sources and mixes thereof. The kit will be constructed by local artisans as a cottage industry. Benefits of replacing wood and dung with biogas for cooking include: 1) reduced pressure on local forests; 2) reduced disease caused by pathogens in unused dung and indoor air pollutants from combustion of wood and dung for cooking and 3) increased revenues through cottage industry and increased ecotourism. Local agriculture will benefit from use of the spent slurry as a nutrient-rich soil amendment.
Benchtop digesters will be used to measure biogas production from different wastes and to determine the proper protocol for addition of fresh waste to sustain continuous biogas production. The quality of the biogas (CH4, CO2, H2S content) from different wastes will be determined by gas chromatography and combustion in a test burner. Testing of full scale prototype digesters will use the protocols developed in our lab experiments. Test plantings will be conducted on the Pierce College farm to confirm the agricultural value of the spent slurry.
Our project team will apply the concepts learned in the classroom and recognize the value of an interdisciplinary approach. Critical thinking is required to accomplish our goal of simplicity and affordability. The value of math, chemistry and physics will be demonstrated as they are used to solve problems. Our project will demonstrate the value of appropriate technology directed to the basic needs of people and will be used as a demonstration of appropriate technology for the environmental classes offered on our campus, for the numerous primary school field trips to our campus farm and will be included in a website. New information and innovations will be published.