Some of us are more ecologically aware than others. There are those for whom climate change, recycling and carbon footprints are problems that someone else should be dealing with. Then there are those, the more socially responsible, who will go out of their way to do their bit to help save the planet for future generations. If you fall in to the second category then read on.
Take methane, also known as biogas. Methane has a number of uses and as a clean fuel is completely carbon-neutral. Its uses are many, including fuel for cooking and use in combustion engines and all from simply accelerating a natural process and trapping it for re-use.
An ideal source for the production of methane is chicken poop. Just a pound of chicken poop has the potential to create as much as ten cubic feet of methane and it is the most efficient of all livestock waste. Once the production process is finished, the remaining sludge can also be utilised for fertilising gardens, giving it an additional environmental benefit.
So if you have a quantity of chicken poop lying around that could be converted into energy, thereby saving you money on your business gas prices, then a very basic methane generator can be constructed by a moderately competent individual as follows:
Recipe and Equipment
- Chicken poop
- Newspaper, straw or old feed
- Metal or plastic 55-gallon drum
- 30-gallon drum
- Power drill
- Brass nipple 3/8 inch x 2 inch
- Rubber gasket 3/8 inch
- Gas ball valve 3/8 inch (female at both of its ends)
- Brass compression nut
- Gas hose, 10 ft with 3/8 inch male at one end
- PH meter
- Paddle or long stick
Take the 30-gallon drum and drill a hole 3/8 inch wide in the bottom, 3 inches away from the edge. Using the threaded brass nipple, attach one bolt and place the nipple inside the drilled hole from underneath. To create an airtight seal, the valve and gasket should be screwed on to opposite ends of the pipe then connected to the hose.
Pour 3 parts chicken poop to 1 part water into the 55-gallon drum, adding several handfuls of either straw, old feed or shredded newspaper. Be sure to stir the mixture carefully to rid it of air bubbles.
In order to release some of the air, open the valve and gently lower the smaller drum, upside down, into the larger drum containing the slurry. It is important that the 30-gallon drum fits well inside the 55-gallon drum so it is close enough to the sides but without preventing vertical movement.
At the point where the small drum is level to where the slurry will begin to ooze into the hose, the valve should be closed. It may be necessary to place a weight on the 30-gallon drum so that it remains sufficiently covered in the larger drum.
There are a number of minor hazards which should be thoroughly researched and borne in mind when carrying out this process, including the creation of certain gases and acids. The correct temperature is also a vital part of the process and will impact the speed of methane production. The whole process should take about 90 days, after which time the remaining sludge can be added to the garden and the container refilled for a new batch.