DIY Culture to Offer Solutions

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 6:51 PM



By this point in the blog we have seen substantial information relating to the chemistry, causes, effects, and solutions of methane. It can often times seem daunting and overwhelming when we begin to realize the true scope of the problem. However, taking small steps can be a good start. We can of course make a large impact just by changing our diet, but what about the energy shortage and methane leaks from natural gas wells? Let’s examine some potential solutions to that now.

With any type of problem solving, usually the most effective method is to get right to the source of the problem. In the case of methane, one main source is the decomposing waste we produce. The EPA Landfill Methane Outreach program is certainly admirable, but what about solutions that can be implemented now? A useful solution would be one where we could harvest that methane before our waste ever reaches the landfill. Thankfully, some members of the DIY community have provided us with what could be a viable solution.

There are already a number of folks attempting such projects. What they’ve done is taken debris that would normally be discarded, and created fermentation chambers to collect the methane for its energy. The methane captured from these systems can be used to power a hot water heater, a stove, hot tub, or even power a furnace to heat your home. Methane gas can be used in place of natural gas in most situations. Perhaps the most notable benefit of capturing methane right at home is that we could reduce the reliance on natural gas wells, thus reducing the likelihood of leaks such as happened in Aliso canyon (read more about that here). Yet another benefit is that we would not have to ship trash all around the country just so it can decompose and release methane into the atmosphere while sitting in a landfill.

Aside from these home methane capturing methods, there are also efforts to capture unused methane on a bit larger scale from sewage waste. Take for example a prison project successfully implemented in Rwanda. Basically, they created large beehive shaped sewage holding tanks, and with the right kind of bacteria, were able to produce biogas for cooking and the like (read more about this here). This type of project can be beneficial on multiple levels. For one, it can solve the ever lingering issue of sanitation, and for another it can reduce the amount of firewood needed for cooking. Both these solutions are of real value, especially in areas such as Rwanda where there is limited firewood resources and, in some parts, limited sanitation infrastructure. So as we can see, larger scale methane production can be viable.

Maintaining the delicate balance of greenhouse gas in our atmosphere is a real challenge, but the solution, at least with respect to methane, lies in the mindful collection and utilization of that gas. Collecting unused gas can also help to eliminate the necessity for natural gas wells, at the same time eliminating the risk of leakage such as in the case of Aliso Canyon. With some thoughtful grass roots movements and experimentation, our creative species will most certainly be able to able to find a solution to the methane conundrum. Be sure to check out my sources below to see what some other innovators have already been working on!

Learn more at http://methaneeducation.weebly.com

Learn more about home biogas fermenters here
http://www.small-farm-permaculture-and-sustainable-living.com/methane_generator.html

and here.
http://theurbanfarmingguys.com/methane-biodigester-how-to

Here is some general information about biogas, including the project in Rwanda.
http://inspectapedia.com/heat/BioGas_Production.php

Source of the above photo:
https://www.americanbiogascouncil.org/biogas_what.asp

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