Cooking with “Waste”

Our latest plans for next year’s projects include switching some of our current composting efforts more toward eliminating our remaining fossil fuel use instead of just boosting our crop yields. As it stands, we compost all of our sheep bedding, our kitchen wastes, and our bodily outputs separately in either outdoor piles or composting bins. Next spring we hope to have a number of 55-gallon drums set up in our greenhouse for anaerobic batch composting of the human and kitchen wastes. Each drum will hold a 2-3 week supply of material, submerged in solar-warmed water, continuously producing methane, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide gases. The gas will flow through a sulfide scrubbing pipe full of steel wool, then end up bubbling into a collecting tank filled with water and wood ashes. This will precipitate the carbon dioxide and bubble up into an upside-down barrel within the collecting tank. The resulting methane and hydrogen will cause the upper tank to rise, and a weight on top of this tank will slightly pressurize the gas, enough to transport it into the house and the waiting gas-burning stove. We hope to produce enough gas during the warmer 3 seasons to last through the winter, possibly pressurizing it into a regular LP tank using a motorized compressor. We’ve done the calculations comparing the output of two humans for a year and the resulting yield of methane nearly equals our current LP use, BTU for BTU.  And we’ve started collecting materials, so hopefully we’ll have it all together by late this fall. One more notch out of the fossil fuel habit!

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