Homebiogas: easy, clean, climate-friendly way to heat and power your home with garbage


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/06/24/bioreactors.html


I seriously doubt it was “clean burning” by contemporary standards, but gas generally is better than petrol or coal, a low bar to be sure. Of course I’m still using it for heat and hot water.

Methane is odorless naturally. The gas company adds nasty smells as a safety feature.

I’d definitely look at a solar water heater first, and things like heat pumps if you want to really minimize carbon output, although the latter can be expensive. Not sure what this thing costs.


The City of Calgary has been doing this at the sewage treatment plant for decades. When I took the tour about 15 years back, the sewage from about a 800,000 people that ran through that plant was putting out several megawatts, about half the power needed to run the plant itself.

But it’s hard for me to imagine the output of one home, even if you included the sewage, amounting to half a kilowatt. But even a hundred watts could be quite the lifesaver in a prolonged power outage; these days that runs a lot of LED lights, phones, maybe a laptop and internet router (if the internet is working).

Alas, the ad for the product doesn’t mention power, I assume that fuel cells or a whole combustion/generator is your problem to add-on.

What they can do is run a BBQ. Or one gas stove element. The former for 90 minutes, the latter for 3 hours. That assumes a full tank, which I gather assumes a full daily load of 12 litres of organic waste. My wife and I have to collect that in a bucket for a special recycle, so I can say we do produce a couple of litres per day; we could probably run that stove burner for 30-45 minutes per day.


Next step: Thunderdome!


If you could incorporate it with a septic tank, get over the “ehh” factor, we might have something here.


Not necessarily…



They don’t mention power because the gas produced is too wet and impure to run into a combustion engine.


The first thing I would ask them, since I live in LA, is how long at 115f before the whole thing crashes and what do I have to do to recover it?


Somehow, I don’t think this product will go over big with the crowd that likes to “roll coal”:



Those people should all have their driving licenses revoked.


And better then cow dung, at least to my modern Western sensibilities.

CSB: after a few trips to India, I had the idea to try cooking over cow dung when camping. But I couldn’t convince my daughters and wife to participate.


It is way cool than gasification!

Our future used to be so bright…


There are not many times I am glad I live in the UK, but this is one of them. Rolling coal would be a major MOT fail, and will get you pulled over by the police for driving a potentially dangerous vehicle.




It is illegal in the US but unfortunately the cops in Redneckistan are also sympathetic rednecks.


Is it bear-proof?

They claim it is odourless, but there will be some slops on the filling funnel.

Or how about raccoons. There’s no such thing as raccoon-proof.

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Modifying a vehicle’s exhaust system in this way is in fact illegal in most US jurisdictions, and can carry steep fines. I don’t believe it is commonly enforced, though I could be wrong. But doing something like this indicates a fundamental lack of responsibility that should be grounds to prohibit a person driving any motor vehicle.


Like almost everything to do with residential infrastructure, this kind of thing works better if it can be organised at a “block” or “neighborhood” sort of scale – more efficient use of land and materials, more stable inputs and outputs, better distribution of labor and expertise, etc. – but everything about modern town planning tends to work against that. Especially in suburbs, which are designed to answer the question “how can we do literally everything as inefficiently as possible?”

But it could be a fun way to bring your neighborhood together if you do happen to live somewhere it could work! In the US, I think the best neighborhood typology for this kind of thing would be trailer parks, as they have usable land, but are also reasonably dense. There’s probably not a perfect overlap between “lives in a trailer park” and “cares about energy sustainability” but I shouldn’t make classist assumptions.


Or just rats.


Do home bodegas work?