The Biogas Revolution with Alon Civier: PYP 216

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Alon Civier is the Customer Experience Manager at HomeBiogas.com, an Israeli startup whose mission is to bring clean and elegant biogas technology to the world.

I discovered biogas when I lived in South Africa six years ago. Some remote Zulu villages had installed underground tanks near their cattle, and every day shoveled manure into these tanks.

Somehow, as the bacteria in the tanks went to work on the manure, methane was produced, which was siphoned off for use in cooking and heating.

Not only was this free energy, but it replaced the messy and dangerous combustion of wood and cow patties as indoor cooking and heating fuel. And it kept the manure from piling up around the settlements and attracting flies and pathogens.

Fast forward to 2016, and I received a wonderful gift from a friend: my own biogas digester, completely unassembled, in a giant cardboard box.

After about a dozen hours and some light profanity, I had put together my HomeBiogas unit. I filled it with 100 pounds of fresh manure from a neighbor's farm, added a bunch of water, and waited.

Three weeks later, I was emptying all my kitchen compost into the unit, and getting a potent slurry of liquid fertilizer from the overflow valve.

And then the methane bladder began to fill. When my wife held a lit Bic up to the tip of the hose, yellow-blue flame appeared.

So this stuff works.

I got on the phone with Alon Civier of HomeBiogas, and had a conversation about the benefits of this old/new technology, and his company's vision for changing the world.

We covered:

  • Alon's love affair with environmental sustainability
  • volunteering at a wind turbine cooperative
  • the difference between aerobic and anaerobic fermentation
  • the difference between liquid propane gas (LPG) and biogas
  • organic waste, methane and the greenhouse effect
  • 12% of global warming caused by methane from garbage
  • the permaculture principle of turning all outputs into valuable inputs
  • searching for circular systems
  • recycling – takes a lot of energy
  • no electricity for biogas – just biological energy
  • uncollected manure creates a nasty smell and health hazard
  • aerobic composting takes months; anaerobic composting provides daily fertilizer
  • minerals from food return to the garden
  • designing units for rural Africa and the Palestinian Authority
  •  liquid fertilizer more important than the biogas
  • DIY system – can ship it and locals can install it themselves
  • put it directly on the ground – don't need to dig a hole
  • maintaining stable pressure with sandbags
  • nickname for the system: The Answer
  • pride that you're producing gas at your own home
  • a miracle – don't need wood for fire
  • saved two hours of wood collecting by using animal manure
  • and much more…

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Links

HomeBiogas.com

Description and history of biogas

Profile of Alon

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