If you’re the kind of person who pays attention to the eco-world, you might have noticed a couple of things. There is a lot of waste being generated and there is a shortage of “green” fuel.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could use the excess waste to produce energy?
The good news is; there are many ways that waste can be used to produce energy. The trick is knowing what can and what can’t be used. For the most part, you need to use bio-waste or green waste. Anything that used to be alive would be a good shorthand method for remembering what you can use.
Take poo for example; animal poo to be precise. Before it was poo, or bio-waste if you prefer, it was some kind of plant like grass or hay. Processing it properly using a digester can provide both bio-gas, which can be used to produce electricity, and fertiliser. A number of farms have already begun doing this and not all of them are as big as you might think.
In Peru, Carmen Felipe-Morales and Ulises Moreno have built a bio-gas plant on their guinea pig farm. The 1000 guinea pigs provide more than enough poo to power their generators for a month, with bio-gas to spare. They also produce so much fertiliser that they are able to sell the excess to other nearby farms.
What’s so amazing about this is that the whole thing is home made using hosepipes, old oil barrels and tractor inner tubes. You can read more here.
Of course, there’s only so much poo and not all of us live on or near a farm. But using waste wood and other green waste directly can be useful to many more of us. We’ll look at the clever uses of pyrolysis and gasification next time.
Photo credit: Martin Pope