[permaculture] Biogas digester plans

Harold Waldock haroldw at alternatives.com
Mon Mar 4 20:20:41 EST 2002

The only successful project involving "simple tech" methane on the
"temperate" home farm is rumoured to be in Jean Pain's book about forestry.
He operated in high country in the south of France. The vague memory is that
he developed a (patented)woodchipper that encouraged composting of the
chips.  He ran pipes through the huge piles of chips and heated his
greenhouse and his home and the methane producing tanks. He got all his
woodchips from the forest fire control cuts which he was doing.  He
replanted a ruined ecology restarted a local industry and created steady
employment.  The resulting compost was used for the nursery and for sale.
The methane (from wood chips) producing tanks produced enough methane  that
he converted his chipper, tractor and his trucks/automobiles to run on it.
The scale at which he worked was a 10 man operation not household.
Somewhere in my files is the title and possible sources.  An English
translation was done but one would have to dig deep to find it. If you find
it would you lend it to me?  I do not know of anybody who has successfully
transplanted his concept.  Interest died out in the mid 80's a time of cheap
energy and very high capital costs (unlike now where the reverse may be

There have been continuous developments in the field of biomass burners for
electricity - now quite competitive if one includes cogeneration I.e. (heat
for the buildings) in England.  Richmond BC Canada greenhouses use woodchips
from tree removal services.

The methane tanks as described in other posts worked well in India when I
was there.  It cooked our meals and digested the cattle's dung. A few years
later I learned there was one catch.  They tended to explode sending the
steel tank flying into the air and come earth and break after several years
of very useful service. That is because people liked to smoke, could not
read, and no posted signs anyway.  It is a technology that needs care and
understanding: Walls, Fences, Safety equipment, signs, to a "code" etc. They
had none of that in India with the expected results.

Harold Waldock
Vancouver Permaculture Network

> -----Original Message-----
> From: permaculture-admin at lists.ibiblio.org
> [mailto:permaculture-admin at lists.ibiblio.org]On Behalf Of The Cottage
> Sent: Monday, March 04, 2002 10:52 AM
> To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subject: [permaculture] Biogas digester plans
> Is anyone familiar with homescale methane production via compostables and
> humanure?  We are looking to install one for a site with upwards of 10
> people per day as well as clippings etc.
> In Lake'ch
> lance
> Phytomphalos Farms
> P.O. Box 87
> Roberts Creek, B.C.
> V0N 2W0
> "The Nazgul are in the Shire, moving among our friends
> and neighbors."
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