Residential food waste is something that is not usually considered a renewable source of energy, but a new innovation may change that perspective. The new Homebiogas System brings forth this opportunity to individuals and multi-family units. According to CalRecycle; Californians dispose of almost 5.6 million tons of food each year, which represents 16 percent of material going to landfills.
The inspiration for the Homebiogas System design came from rural off-grid areas of India that were able to produce enough gas for their cooking needs with the use of animal manure. Improving upon conventional designs and using cutting edge technology, the Homebiogas System has produced an efficient, modern, off-grid method to not only divert organic waste from landfills but to also produce a decentralized clean source of energy for residential use. The Homebiogas System can produce clean biogas of approximately 65 percent CH4 and 35 percent CO2. From up to six liters of food waste, the system can produce over three hours of cooking time. The system’s only other byproduct is a rich natural fertilizer solution that can also offset the use of chemical fertilizer for residential gardens and plants.
The Homebiogas Company has been around since 2011 and after having launched an Indiegogo campaign that was funded in less than 24 hours; Homebiogas is now shipping early bird units across 35 countries. The Homebiogas System is set to retail for over $1,500.00 USD, but early adopter specials are still available at $995.00 USD per unit–cheaper if purchased in bulk. The Homebiogas System stands to be one of the more innovative solutions to enter the marketplace, producing decentralized, renewable energy from waste.
Biogas and biofuels are renewable and carbon neutral sources of energy. The crops that have ultimately been targeted for biogas production such as corn however, have been shown to displace sources of food and feed for cattle while having some of the same negative effects of commercial crop production such as runoff pollution and soil erosion. Nopal, a type of cactus commonly found in over 52 percent of the Mexican territory, even in the dry desert, has been found to not only provide a cleaner burning alternative to natural gas; but also grown with less than half the required amount of water necessary for a corn field.
The process of making biogas from the nopal plant does not involve complex machinery as it simply involves shredding the leaves and placing them in a bio digester where they start decomposing and generate biogas. The biogas produced contains up to 65 percent methane that is fed into an internal combustion engine generator that produces electric energy.
Yield could be up to 800 tons per acre and produce about 43,300 m3 of biogas or the equivalent, in energy terms, to 25,000 liters of diesel per acre. This nopal yield is significant compared to the yield of corn, which produces the equivalent to 1,600 liters of diesel per acre. It also surpasses other possible renewable options such as the flowering plant, Jatropha, which produces the equivalent to 3,000 liters of diesel per acre.
The nopal helps retain soil in places where the ground has eroded and can grow in some of the driest conditions such as those found in the deserts of the western U.S. The entire list of products generated from the use of the nopal as biomass are: biogas, electricity, water, nitrogen, humus, earthworm flour (animal feed) and carbon credits by participating in the process of carbon dioxide absorption, making them one of the best possible solutions for greener future renewable energy sources.