[permaculture] Industry and permaculture

Kelly Finigan kfinigan at telus.net
Tue Oct 29 13:55:03 EST 2002

A few thoughts/ comments / sharing experience:


we don't have to be phobic of this. IT depends what's in it. Municipal sewage sludge from big cities is almost always the worst - a real potpourri of heavy metal etc mixed with human waste. In small towns, however, there is often no source of heavy metals (i.e. no industry putting it in the waste stream) - this sludge could be quite easily used. Analogously, some sludge comes ONLY from industrial producers. This is ripe for reclaiming the "contaminants"...for instance photographic/film waste streams are rich in silver. I believe Kodak phytoremediates its waste stream, harvests the plants, burns them, sifts out the silver and uses it.


various ways to deal with this: chlorine - fast, easy to control, energy-consuming, expensive and toxic; UV bulbs - fast, easy to control, expensive and energy-consuming; ozone - fast, expensive, potentially explosive and energy-consuming; UV sunlight - slow, generally requires some land use, cheap, safe, easy, energy-conserving. Standard wastewater treatment practice in rural areas here is UV (sunlight) disinfection while water is stored in lagoons or when its in a farmers field after been used for irrigation. No problem with this. 


this is very close to being a large scale reality. One project I have been trying to establish should reduce about 50,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year while producing 1MW of electricity (and water heat for an industrial process). On a per-dollar-investment basis, this is about 12 times the reduction of GHGs that wind power makes. Currently, the economics are slightly against biogas - ironically, wind power receives government price premiums here, while biogas does not. If this changes, or if Canada ratifies the Kyoto accord, the economics should become favourable.


Kelly Finigan, M.Sc. P.Eng., Permaculture Designer
Essential Elements Inc.
744 - 4 Street NW       Calgary, Alberta, Canada         T2N 1P2
1-403-283-7270           fax 283-9783     kfinigan at telus.net
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Marimike6 at cs.com 
  To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org 
  Sent: Tuesday, October 29, 2002 8:28 AM
  Subject: Fwd: [permaculture] Industry and permaculture

  Kirby, Rita and everyone---

  You're onto some really fertile ground here. Learn to safely treat blackwater (from human and animal wastes) and you'll not only gain irrigation water but valuable soil amendments in the form of stabilised and non-pathogenic sludge.

  Unfortunately, sludge is a pretty deep science. It would be a good idea to learn how every municipality in America has already been doing it, since the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972. It's far from being a piece of cake ending up with a sludge that's even usable in your soil, being very much like performing a kitchen chemistry experiment. If there are any wastewater treatment courses available at your local community college it'll be worth your while to take one. Learn the basics.

  Pathogenicity, for instance, is normally controlled by chlorination and subsequent dechlorination. Do without this step at your own risk-- hepatitis can be hardy stuff. High doses of UV also kill pathogens, if you can deal with the expense of a basic setup and electricity to run it. 

  You can grow algae for composting in ditches with a minimum of technology, but should have a look at the literature first before trying to reinvent the wheel. And you can, in fact, sequester the natural gas for use in generating electricity or burning for heat if you are willing to design a fairly elaborate, enclosed setup-- really a still. Normally, constraints of scale prohibit small installations unless you're able to find a package unit to buy and put in. Then you have a proven technology instead of an experiment cobbled together. Don't assume it's simple. Anyone sitting around a bar talking can show you how simple international politics is, for instance. To a working diplomat, it's not quite that easy. 

  Good luck. Study more. Come up with a way a small working farm can use its biogas and biosolids to good effect and you can patent it, sell it and grow rich teaching it to others. Don't scoff at this motive, either. If you don't do the selling, someone else will notice your discovery and do it for you.

  Mike Elvin
  Fuquay-Varina, NC

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