A small anaerobic digester from E2Conserve

Today instead of asking how to get rid of waste, many are asking how they might put parts of the waste stream to better use, like making their own fertilizer and gas, for instance.

Not only do landfills capture methane to generate power from methane, owners of farms are deploying anaerobic digesters to create fertilizers. The list of innovators is growing.

Dog poop is even on the list of viable new materials from that can be harvested and used from the waste stream. Last year in Cambridge, MA, conceptual artist Matthew Mazzotta launched the Park Spark Project, using dog feces to power lampposts in a park.

Here dog owners collect dog droppings in biodegradable bags, then toss the mess into the digester –- a closed cylindrical container, where the dog feces are broken down by anaerobic bacteria. This process creates methane that is then released through a valve and burned to power an old-fashioned gas-burning lamppost in a park.

Companies like E2Conserve manufacture and sell small digesters at prices from $420 to $1,200. Access to biotech tools like this is positive news for schools, garden clubs and small farms – even neighborhoods wishing to participate in problem-solving projects.

E2Conserve manufactures small-scale biogas digesters priced at $420. According to the company, its 35 cubic-foot methane digester can handle farm waste from poultry, cattle, pigs, horses, up to 66 pounds a day. It also handles food waste, leaves, twigs and shredded waste.

The company lists these benefits:

  1. For farm and plant wastes up to 66 lb/day and kitchen wastes up to 17 lb/day
  2. Methane/biogas (can be used for cooking/heating) – 35ft3 (1 m3)
  3. Electricity – up to 5 Kwh equivalent/day (requires additional generator)
  4. Organic fertilizer/manure – up to 6.61 lb/day
  5. A very neat and cheap way to solve your waste management problem
  6. Free methane gas for cooking and heating
  7. The digested slurry from the Mini Biogas digester is an excellent organic fertilizer and soil conditioner
  8. An activity to reduce greenhouse gas generation.

With the world economy still reeling from an abundance of gloomy economic news, the digester business for producing biogas and fertilizer might be a very sweet place to be working, for many good reasons.

PHOTO: E2Conserve