Thursday, January 28, 2010
The sign on the Alaskan Hotel in the quaint fishing village of Cordova, Alaska (where we are working with the students of the high school science club and scientists from the University of Fairbanks to build a new breed of biofuel reactors based on our Solar CITIES designs created in the Arab...
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Thomas Henry Culhane Mike Rimoin These are the Sun Frost medical refrigerators for off-grid use in Africa at 2000 dollars each. I think we can do much better with propane or natural gas refrigerators run on waste-food biogas by a factor of 1/2 to 1/3. Sun Frost products are great but I think we are too locked into this idea of using elec...tricity for everything instead of using the thermodynamics of locally available environments and resources. In Borneo our candle-powered-refrigerator (ammonia based) kept our vaccines and snake anti-venom in great shape.
January 27 at 9:23am ·
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Monday, January 25, 2010
With 3 out of six reactors working really well, and the three that aren't being the 2 psychrophiles and 1 psych/meso mix in the cold room, we ran an experiment today that yielded suggestive evidence that psychs need high energy feedstock before they will yield gas.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Doncha just love the problem solving abilities of self-organizing networks? From microbial intelligence to urban planning, I continue to believe that the best solutions are found when we let the algorithms that have evolved over billions of years work their magic; connecting community catalysts allows such algorithms ...to flourish, and the work we are doing in Alaska helps confirm this notion!
Scientists drew this conclusion after observing a slime mould as it grew into a network that was almost identical to the Tokyo rail system.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Ken Calvert <renertech at xtra.co.nz> wrote: Dear Michael etal, I think you have found the figures for LNG not CNG. The only way to liquify Methane is at a very low temperature. If you strip the CO2 and H2S out of biogas then to all intents you have Natural Gas, and CNG or compressed natural gas equipment operates at around 3,500psi, but it is still a gas. If you are going to compress biogas at all, then it is best to stick to the usual figures and then you can run you car cook your food and warm your house with standard mass produced Global standard equipment from off the shelf of any hardware/heating store. If you, and anyone else wants some plans as to how to do it as economically as possible then send me a private email and I will return mail you some brochures put out by our Ministry of Agriculture for small farm and hobby farm Biogas plant. In brief, you collect the gas in a plastic bag, and monitor the pressure with the filler guage out of a auto washing machine. The pressure switches on a two cylinder air compressor which sucks the gas through one of a pair of barrels filed with rusty bashed up tin cans which are alternated one in line and the other left open to the air. The Iron sulphide in air then reverts to iron metal for reuse of the barrel, and the sulfur is left as elemental flowers of sulfur which is useful stuff. (beware heat problems) At around 150psi the gas is bubbled through a vertical water column consisting of a six meter length of 6" 150mil plastic pipe. 2metres as someone suggested is not enough. Natural gas at 150psi can then be used in liu of LPG if it is metered through an LPG reduction valve and the jets in LPG stuff are opened out a smidgeon. Storing a reasonable volume of methane at this pressure takes some ingenuity but it can be done. To drive your car on CNG requires a pair of old double acting hydraulic cylinders off a bulldozer or some such. You can't use one cylinder with a floating piston, because as already mentioned lubricating oil will take up methane under pressure and hydraulic pumps don't work too well with oil foaming out the tank. A single 3 ft stroke will take you up to 3000psi + in one stroke, and normal DIY hydraulic equipment from Northern Tool or other DIY stores operate at just the right pressures to make a rather neat setup. However, let me say it again spending the money to go this far is crazy if you do not clean up your gas first and convert it into the Natural Gas which is a world wide commodity with so many appliances and equipment matched to its use. Ken C.
Scrubbing and compressing biogas makes sense only if you want to use it as fuel in an internal combustion engine. If you want fuel just for heating, burn the biomass as it is, and make use of its full calorific value. When you convert biomass into biogas, you lose at least 75% of the energy in the process of conversion. Yours A.D.Karve
Michael etal, coming back for a second bite at the cherry. There used to be on the market ,out of Europe, a micro cng compressor by which an urban person, could take natural gas from their household supply, and pump it up to the required pressure straight into the tank of their car overnight. It was quite small and operated at about 1/3 to 1/2 hp. It would sit in the corner of ones garage and got around all the OSH regulations by not storing permantly anything dangerous under pressure in ones house. I once talked to someone else who had hooked a hand operated grease gun to a 1/4 hp motor. A lever grease gun will take you up to 7000psi. However, he had his pressures and compression ratios all wrong and it was even more painfully slow than one might imagine. Happy compressing.
O.K. here it is! http://www.myphill.com/faq.htm If you scrub your biogas to the quality of natural gas,
then you can fill a CNG converted car in your garage over night,
with no problems of HP storage because the car provides the HP storage. I would go more and say that an enterprising person could also use the
CNG gas tank
of their car as storage to run ones household in the evening too.
Bolt on CNG conversion kits are readily available from Europe.
Especially from Italy. You might have problems in getting it approved
without a operators certificate as well,
but thats a bureacratic problem not a technical one. ATB Ken C. Dear biogas workers, I wish all of you a happy new year. I take this opportunity
to report some of my findings and poremises based on actual
field experiences and observations. Use of human food for generating biogas: Because the methanogens are found universally in fecal matter, the faeces are considered by everybody to be their food. The intestines of animals house a large variety of bacteria.
It is my premise, that because these bacteria, including the methanogens, live in the guts of animals, they eat what the animals eat. They are found in the faeces because they are thrown out of the body along with faeces. The fecal matter
represents the residual matter that can be digested neither by the digestive system of the concerned animal nor by any of the bacteria residing in its gut. The fecal matter can be digested only by a cascade reaction starting from hydrolysis to acetogenesis to methanogenesis, with a different bacterial species acting at each step. This process is analogous to biphasic systems, in which aerobic bacteria are employed for achieving partial digestion of the biomass, which is later acted upon by the methanogens under anaerobic conditions. The rapid generation of biogas from sugar or starch is most probably due to the fact that these substances are directly digested by the methanogens, without taking help of any other bacterial species. Especially in the case of sugars, biogas starts emanating from the biogas plant within two hours of introducing the feedstock into the biogas plant, and it is digested and converted completely into biogas within 24 hours. Starch takes just a little longer. I do not advocate the use of good quality grain or crystalline sugar as feedstock for biogas generation.
One should use urban food waste for this purpose. In fact, its disposal is looked upon as a problem by the municipal authorities. Our technology offers a solution to this problem. Failure of biogas technology in India: India has about 145 million rural families. Even after 60 years of efforts on the part of the Government of India, we have in this country only about 3 million working biogas plants.
The low penetration of the biogas technology in India is primarily due to the
high cost of the dung based biogas plant and also due to the fact that the
government promoted biogas only as cooking fuel. Had it been made known to
the villagers that biogas could be used as fuel in an internal combustion engine
for generating electricity or for pumping water, the villagers would have accepted
the biogas technology wholeheartedly. Biogas as fuel in an internal combustion engine: volunteers of a U.K based NGO
called Engineers Without Borders standardised this system in collaboration
with our scientists. In this system, unpurified biogas is used as fuel
in an internal combustion engine..A large number of people, including us,
are making use of this technology. We use one internal combustion engine for
generating electricity at our campus, and another internal combustion engine
for driving our char briquette extruder. In the area where our R & D centre is located, we get electricity only for a period of 12 hours in a day. Several farmers and restaurant owners in our neighbourhood now generate their own electricity by using this technology.
They use biogas generated by them in their own biogas plants.
Farmers use cattle dung as feedstock, whereas the restaurant owners use food waste. Failure of biogas plant at Approvecho: A team from Approvecho had visited
our campus and seen with their own eyes the working of our biogas plants made from two water tanks. I was with Approvecho only for a period of 4 days.
It was the beginning of February. The temperature at that time was below zero. I had sent to them, in advance, our video CD and a list of the hardware needed
for fabricating a biogas plant. I was informed that everything was available
in the local shops and that the hardware would be purchased after my arrival
at Approvecho. When we actually tried to buy the hardware, we found that
the tanks of specified sizes were not available in any of the shops.
They were listed in the catalogues of the manufacturing firms but not
available off the shelf. Therefore we had to improvise,
using discarded barrels obtained from grocery shops.
Therefore, instead of a moving drum model,
I constructed a fixed dome biogas plant with the available material.
With the short time available to me, I could only assemble the hardware
and leave without actually commissioning the plant.
I heard later that the plants fabricated by me at Approvecho did not work,
but there was nothing I could do about it as I could not visit USA again
just to repair the biogas plants. Efficiency of a biogas plant:
If, instead of fermentation taking 40 days,
I got the same amount of biogas within 24 hours,
I would consider the process to be 40 times efficient.
If, instead of using daily feedstock weighing 40 kg,
I got the same amount of biogas with just 2 kg feedstock (e.g. stale bread),
I would consider the process to be 20 times as efficient.
Multiplication of the two process efficiency figures gives you the
total efficiency figure of 800. Use of effluents as fertilizer:
The effluent of a biogas plant contains most of the
minerals required by plants and it should therefore go back to the fields.
There is however a problem in an urban environment,
because there are no fields in the vicinity.
The slurry from our domestic biogas system is generally poured by the users
into the toilet and flushed away. Compact biogas system gives insight into agriculture:
There is universal agreement among soil scientists that there exists a
positive correlation between the microbial population density in the soil
and soil fertility. The reason for this correlation is that the
soil micro-organisms can make minerals in the soil available to the plants.
Agronomists recommend applying organic matter to the soil in the form of compost
in order to feed the soil micro-organisms. Our work on biogas showed that
high calorie organic matter worked much better as feedstock in a biogas plant
than a substance like dung, having a relatively low nutritional value.
I tested the same concept in agriculture and got excellent results,
when I applied sugar or green leaves to the soil. Just 10 kg (dry weight)
per acre (25 kg per hectare), applied to a field, once every 3 months,
gives as high yield as a field receiving the full recommended dose of
inorganic fertilizers. Literally thousands of farmers in my state are now
using this technology. Critics call this method soil mining,
but one should keep in mind the fact that just 1 meter layer of
soil contains enough minerals to support agriculture continuously
for 25000 years. The earth's crust is 100 km thick. Yours A.D.Karve, Jan 01, 2009
Sunday, January 10, 2010
I absolutely hate nuclear power as a terrestrial solution to the easy problem of providing electricity (we have so so very many absolutely safe, clean and easy methods to produce electricity -- biogas from garbage is one I'd like to see used everywhere and only when all the garbage is gone from the streets and landfill...s would we move on to more expensive options) . But if the politicos think we must have the "deadly terrorist-vulnerable radioactive rocks -to-heat water-to-turn-turbines" option, this Eisenhower solution, now backed by Obama and Russia, seems to be the way to go. Please support it and convince Egypt to support it as well, since they are a key country with immediate nuclear ambitions that could make this work or scuttle it.
In 1953, eight years after the American nuclear bombing of Japan, President Dwight D Eisenhower laid out a vision that he called Atoms for Peace.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Movie Review - Garbage Dreams - The Struggles of Cairo’s ‘Garbage People,’ but No Whining - NYTimes.
An excellent review of the marvelous film about our friends from Spirit of Youth! You can actually see the very first hand-made solar hot water system we built on the roof of the Zabaleen school in this photo, and behind the camera is one of our experimental urban-waste-to-biogas digesters that can help replace the fun...ction of the pigs that were slaughtered. See the movie and if you can, help us get Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) funds to the community to help Adham and Nabil and Osama reclaim the Zabaleen's world-record recycling rate of 80% through waste-to-energy systems (with proper funding we can even turn sewage waste into clean fuel for electricity production). (PS, Yes, this is the very place and people that Professor Randall Crane's UCLA Urban Planning students visited in 2006; thanks Guillermo and Jane for sharing!)
Movie Review - Garbage Dreams - The Struggles of Cairo’s ‘Garbage People,’ but No Whining - NYTimes.
“Garbage Dreams,” directed by Mai Iskander, follows young people who collect trash in Cairo, a city of 18 million residents that has no official sanitation services.
This excellent article captures many of the points that were in the chapter on solar heating of water that I had to cut out of my dissertation. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know why Egypt uses so little solar hot water (400,000 m2 for 80 million, with half not working (!), compared to neighboring Israel's 6 million m2 for 6 million people) . However in this "new Obama era" (with the American juggernaut that controls Egyptian energy policy finally adopting European sensibility) "many Egyptians [are] thinking that if European
energy users see the commercial viability of generating solar energy in Egypt
and transporting it thousands of kilometres, surely Egyptians can do it in
their own backyard."
Egypt receives some of the highest annual solar radiation in the world, yet the desert country remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels.