Friday, March 13, 2015

Beginners Biogas Workshop at Muirkirk Farm April 18-19

New Design for US-ready Small Biogas Digester Debuts, with Potential Impact on Climate Change

CAUSES will be hosting a Beginners and Builders Biogas Workshop, April 18-19, at the UDC Muirkirk Research Farm. David House, author of The Complete Biogas Handbook and workshop facilitator, will present details about a new design for a fully insulated, US-ready small biogas digester capable of producing several cubic yards of biogas daily from moderate amounts of food waste.

Biogas is a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide, and can be used as a fuel in any application where ordinary natural gas might be used, such as cooking, heating or for vehicle operation. It is produced by a natural process akin to composting, and besides biogas, one of the results of the process is a high-quality fertilizer.

“It’s important that this new, low-cost biogas digester can use food waste,” House said, “because it addresses several problems. Something between a third and half of all food produced globally is wasted, and most of that produces methane when it decomposes.“

Recent research shows that methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than was previously suspected; up to 105 times more powerful than an equal weight of carbon dioxide. So this is not a small problem. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UNFAO), food wastage ranks as the third top greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter after the U.S. and China. Twenty five percent of the man-made global warming we are experiencing today is caused by methane emissions, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, and that making wasted food into biogas, can dramatically reduce the GHG impact of food waste.

House also mentioned how a small group of biodiesel enthusiasts managed to catalyze a movement that has now resulted in almost completely removing used cooking oil from waste stream. “I hope our efforts might help spark a realization that food waste is even more valuable than used cooking oil,” he said.

The Biogas Workshop will cover these topics and more, and offer practical methods of making several kinds of biogas digesters, including the new design, said Greg Howland, the organizer of the DC event.

“Waste management and closing the loop on the food production, preparation, distribution and consumption cycle are key components of the Urban Food Systems that we are developing in the District of Columbia,” said CAUSES Dean, Dr. Sabine O'Hara; “We are fortunate to be partnering with someone as knowledgeable as David House to promote this important technology.”

Further information about the Biogas Workshop and a link to registration is available from the for The Complete Biogas Handbook website.  Muirkirk Research Farm is located at 12001 Old Baltimore Pike, Beltsville, Maryland, 20705.

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