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Alex Steffen, 7 Jun 04

Under the right conditions, organic waste, from compost to sewage, can be processed to decay into slurry and biogas -- fertilizer and fuel. Superflex is building biogas systems for small villages in Cambodia, Tanzania and elsewhere:

"Superflex has collaborated with Danish and African engineers to construct a simple, portable biogas unit that can produce sufficient gas for the cooking and lighting needs of an African family. The system has been adapted to meet the efficiency and style demands of a modern African consumer. It is intended to match the needs and economic resources that we believe exist in small-scale economies. The orange biogas plant produces biogas from organic materials, such as human and animal stools. For a modest sum, an African family will be able to buy such a biogas system and achieve self-sufficiency in energy. The plant produces approx. 4 cubic metres of gas per day from the dung from 2-3 cattle. This is enough for a family of 8-10 members for cooking purposes and to run one gas lamp in the evening."

I remember hearing that back-to-the-land types in the 70s found biogas systems unstable and dangerous. Superflex claims to have solved these problems through "the innovation of a pressure equalisation system and a provocative new construction method and design" but I lack the background to say either way. Still, distributed biogas sounds like a great idea.

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Very cool. Well, they don't show removing the used waste that must be about as pleasant as cleaning out a spot a pot.

They seem to be taggers as well!

Posted by: Stephen Balbach on 7 Jun 04

Well my dad works in a company that designs huge biogas plants. They made a couple in Germany, one in Belgium, Rome, etc. And there's mostly only interest for these plants in Europe and Asia.
It's for household and garden waste only, the plastics and metal get filtered out. The end product is compost and gas, which in turn becomes electricity. The compost gets used by the farmers.

1 plant here in Belgium processes the biological waste of about 500.000 to 750.000 people. The plant itself stinks like hell... it's better not to build one within 200m of family houses.

Such a plant is safe, when build by one of the experienced companys in this field. Last year there was an explosion in a biogas plant in Spain, but it was so poorly constructed it was only logical it wasn't safe... (Noone got harmed)

The bad part is that such a big plant easily costs more then 25 million Euro. That's an enormous sum of money, it's only an option for big city's.

that said, these cheap systems are very interesting ! Especially for the villages in the middle of nowhere.

Posted by: gunnar on 8 Jun 04

The portable units would be perfect for a place such as Haiti. The Haitians have used up almost every stick of wood for cooking fuel (resulting in massive erosion and the now famous mudslides), and if the units can be produced as cheaply as guesstimated, I see these as a way to bypass the building of huge energy plants that would further damage their environment using non-replenishable materials they simply cannot afford anyway.

Posted by: Justin on 9 Jun 04



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