Updated: SSG 4 Biogas Solutions

Update: I have posted the recording of the call with our German Biogas Engineer, Thorsten.  I found this subject very interesting and exciting at the simple and multiple opportunities this technology can provide.  I was most interested in the newer technologies that simplify the process, but also how this easily fits into many of sustainable projects that we will be tackling in the near future.

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Puxin Biogas PDF

SSG Biogas Introduction

31 comments to Updated: SSG 4 Biogas Solutions

  • martin vazquez

    Good! I´ll be online and listening.

  • Thomas Griffing

    I visited a home recently where the owner used a methane digester to provide gasseous fuel for cooking and an electric generator. He also used the effluent (digested output) for fertilizer in his garden.

    He used a separate system for handling human waste and claimed that compared to grass clippings and herbivore waste, human waste doesn’t produce as much gas and contanimated the effluent so it could not be used for fertilizing edible plants.

    He constructed his digester out of readily available materials and used a water-based vapor lock to keep oxygen out of the digester. He had to pay special attention to the gas lines.

    Here’s a video showing a large scale methane digester which uses cow manure and produces energy and fertilizer:

    Methane Digester Video

    • Marvin Motsenbocker

      Thomas, would he be willing to let others visit him just to look at his installation? I assume he is somewhere on the East Coast?

      • tgriff


        He lives here in Texas – about 2 hours south of Dallas.

        Here is a video of Dan loading the digester with water / manure:

        Flushing manure into system

        At 4:25 in the video, the camera zooms back to show the rest of the digester. it is composed of load / mixer, gas collector, gas scrubber and a storage tank. The collector consisted of a concrete septic tank base with a custom steel “cap” that floated on the water to provide pressure, a connection for the gas output hose and the vapor lock.

        His setup also had a compressor and electric generator, but this is where it gets complicated – compressing the gas. He also mentioned that the scrubber is probably not necessary.

    • Joan Redmond

      Joe Jenkins has a book on how to handle human waste and they do use it in their garden. Well worth the read.

  • Rob

    I reviewed three books for the Silver Shield that dealt with methane production and show you how to make it at home. Please read about them here: http://dont-tread-on.me/?p=20932

  • Allen Halverson

    I would be curious to hear what the implications of a biogas system are using animals raised on pasture. It seems most biogas applications have manure from confined animals which should not resonate with any of us here who are striving for sustainability and independance.

    • Jeff Alan

      This was a fantastic presentation.

      I do believe there is no more efficient return of organic matter to the soil than a well managed system of moving livestock through pastures — where animals graze/browse, trample stubble and poop fermented fiber back onto the ground. Done right, the soil in the pasture explodes with life and makes for a incredibly efficient water and nutrient cycle.

      Where the community-integrated biogas generator excels (in my mind) is in capturing/processing the “non-pasture” waste products (humanure, garden/kitchen wastes). It even out-does a normal compost pile by capturing the volatile gases (CH4, CO2) and turning them into usable mechanical or heat energy.

      Biogas is not an end-all energy generator, but a very simple system to keep all available nutrients in the community. The fact that we get some residual energy back is a huge extra.

    • Jeff Alan

      I would add that during the wet winters in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), livestock should not be left on the heavy clay water logged soils. During these conditions, PNW ranchers either leave their livestock in pasture, which 1) runs the risk of compacting/pugging the soil; or 2) they feed the animals hay under a barn, in which case they accumulate masses of manure. There are solutions to work around these issues on as small scale, but for a whole community, a biogas plant would provide a real win-win for the animals, the soil, and the people.

      • David Field

        Jeff, we really need to meet face to face. I’ve been reading Stockman Grass Farmer for a couple years now and trying to model my pasture management accordingly (we have one dairy cow and her steer calf and 3 pregnant beef cows gradually trampling and manuring our recently purchased, overgrazed and weedy pasture back to health). When did you say you might be coming up through Eastern WA?
        David Field in Pasco, WA

  • Marvin Motsenbocker

    From my research on parts for biogas digestors (complete unit based on manufactured fiberglass digester tank 2 cubic meters made by a leading Chinese company in this field) with gas bag collector, gas pump to drive gas burner/electric genset etc. I have the following prices
    Rembi (Chinese currency)
    1 GLASS FIBER PLASTIC DIGESTER 2M3 8500.00 1 8,500.00 ($1336)
    2 BIOGAS FITTING 122.00 1 122.00
    3 BIOGAS STOVE DOUBLE BURNER 148.00 1 148.00 ($44)
    5 SOLAR CHARGE FOR BIOGAS PUMP 360.00 1 360.00 ($107)
    6 BIOGAS PUMP (AND SOLAR Panel) 360.00 1 360.00 ($107)
    7 BIOGAS STORAGE BAG 2 cubic M 550.00 1 550.00 ($164)
    8 PACKING CHARGES 800.00 1 800.00
    TOTAL OF ABOVE RMB 10,840.00


    (We could replace the tank with a modified septic tank)
    This system can handle poop from 5 people and they gang two tanks in series for 10 people etc. Just use a bigger tank (to slow down throughput) according to the salesperson.

  • Kurt

    Hi Chris. I am a ssr member and am having difficulties logging in. Can you please help?

  • Mark Khusid

    I have seen on youtube that people are using gasified wood to propel pickup trucks in remote campsite locations.

    • Marvin Motsenbocker

      I know a guy (he has a 85 acre hilltop in W Virginia, maybe can do a deal iwth him come to think of it) who built such device (trashcan burner with output briefly cleaned and goes right into carburater(sp) )(he gasifies wood to run an electric generator at night) and he forwarded a how-to-do manual published by the Feds some years ago specifically designed to teach how to do this when a gasoline emergency develops. (Europeans did this a lot during WWII to keep their tractors running, but quickly stopped when they could because of all the carbon monoxide deaths caused). We probably should visit him and take a look at his set up. Are you up for that? Let me know if you want a pdf of the DIY manual, it is very interesting and covers history and basics…….

      • Mark

        Definitely up to that. Sure, please send me a pdf of the DIY manual. This may be a way to have a renewable method to power the shop and machinery.


  • Barbara

    I went to the Biogas meeting on Web Ex but could get no sound no matter what I tried.
    Did anyone else have trouble?

    • TU-2000

      You have to either manually connect to the teleconfernce call through your computer OR you can call the 800 number and listen/talk over your phone. One of the windows that opens up when you first enter the meeting asks you if you want to connect to the teleconference. You may have to move a window or two around to find it, but if you don’t click “YES” in this pop-up then your sound will not work through your computer.

    • Freedom Source

      Barbara, I had to click around and choose an option for ‘join conference’ or something I can’t remember exactly what it was. It took me about 5 min. before I had audio, and I had to do the same thing last few meetings, there was no audio and had to mess around for a few minutes to get it going. It was in the menu at the top bar, ie, it was a drop down menu with text choice, it was not a button. Once I did that, there was a little audio window that popped open and then I could hear.

  • Tamara Stevens

    Tamara’s fiance Andy here. Great job Thorsten and thank you for your contribution to the group! I’m new to the Adirondack Mountains which I think is a good bug-out location. Stacking, stocking food, and preparing. Anyone out there who’s local to us?

  • tgriff

    I had to bail toward the end of the presentation – please understand if my question has already been answered.

    I still have reservations about using manure from meat eaters for fertilizing plants for eating. The Puxin setup does this, but travelers know not to eat fresh vegetables or drink unpurified water there – same goes for south of the USA, where they don’t treat waste well.

    What are the ideas for treating human waste properly or working around it?

    BTW: I asked Puxin for info and they replied with info on the large biogas plant and also two smaller designs.

    I think in a SSR community there should be enough business for someone to specialize in constructing and maintaining the larger biogas plants. After all, most of the investment is in the steel molds for shaping the tank – and one could be used many times. Their sales info says the procedure is simple and that most anybody could do it, but I think there is a learning curve for building them better and quicker.

    Of course, it would be even better if we could use readily available materials, like pre-formed concrete or poly septic tanks (I don’t like re-inventing wheels if not necessary).

    • tgriff

      It is clear that a biogas system running from human waste won’t produce enough power for the “contributing” people. It will have to be supplemented. The biogas plants can be fed more material or it can be supplemented with other source(s) of power.

      I like the idea of using hydro-electric generation. We just have to choose some land with enough flowing water to support a hydro generator. Here is a site that sells related equipment:

      Hydro Turbines

      The benefit of hydro power is that it is steady and dependable as the water source. If the water flows constantly, it will generate power 24×365. Use redundant generators for maintenance “down time”.

      As mentioned, a dam is not necessary for the newer designs, but the design of choice would probably be selected depending on the geography.

  • tgriff

    Consider this: In a technological community, energy is a wellspring of wealth and the cost of most things is relative to the cost of energy. For example: Food prices are largely determined by the fuel for growing, harvesting and transporting the product to market. Manufactured items include the cost of energy required for make the items. The cost of cars we drive depend on the cost of fuel and so are our decisions to drive places.

    Consider how our habits would change if the cost of fuel jumps to $35 / gallon and electricity jumps by a factor of 10. We would -pool more and switch to higher efficiency devices (lights, cars, insulation, etc). We would generally be more conservative of our energy consumption.

    Cheap energy enabled this country to become the top manufacturer after WWII (along with the destruction of many other country’s infrastructures).

    With this in mind, I think it is important that the SSR community develop cheap, abundant energy.

    Having alodial title on the property will go a long way to developing this type of thing without government “help” (ie: intervention).

  • Patrick

    Hey Chris, My brother and I are building a Digestor in California. It’s a 10 million dolar project and we have been working on this for 5 years but will be completed and up and running before end of this year. We will be generating and selling electricity and compressing the gas for our trucks. A team is on site right now from Germany building the Digestor. The are a few dairies using this technology but I think we are the first in US to expand to other materials such as grease trap water, slaughter house material, food waste, etc. if you ever make it to Northern California would be happy to show it to you. Pat Ottone

  • Jon

    Patrick– where in NorCal are you? I’m in San Francisco.

  • Patrick Ottone

    Hi, 14 miles South of Chico, California Pat Ottone

  • Edward

    Patrick and Jon- Guerneville is in the Russian River area, about 60 miles north of San Francisco.

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