Sunday, September 19, 2010

begun testing a home-scale water-borne disease prevention system

Just interviewed on the BBC World Service "The World Today" about Solar CITIES approach to the Millenium Development Goals ( "Parts and Patterns" rather than "Projects and Services", asking donors to use volume purchasing power to lower costs of materials so enterprising people can bricolage their own solutions; agr...eeing with Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai "MDG 7 (Sustainability) is the 'mother of all MDGs').

Thomas Henry Culhane has begun testing a home-scale water-borne disease prevention system", a.k.a. a small bathroom biodigestion unit, to help fight future cholera outbreaks like the one this week that has already claimed 900 Nigerian lives. Lots of things to be figured out; calling on all friends to help come up with a small scale market based solution using off the shelf products.

Stopping Cholera

This is the article that inspired me over the last three days to go out and buy the parts to assemble what I hope will be a "home scale water-borne disease prevention system". I ask all who like to tinker to get involved and help figure out a way to prevent water borne disease deaths with the assumption that municipalities, governments and aid agencies will not be able to supply the needed infrastructure in time, if ever. This is something that needs individuals, small businesses and communities to come together and mobilize. As the program "Save our Streets" used to say, "Not one more child lost... NOT ONE MORE!"

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September 19 at 12:27am · · · Share

    • Balogun Oluwasegun Funny thing I was just thinking of you and a thought crossed my mind you will be thinking of Nigeria, so I check your wall and it is so true. I will read the report, count me in.
      September 19 at 12:29am ·
    • Balogun Oluwasegun
      Well TH I read parts of the report largely familar to me. The question I want to ask was the same Carl asked-who will pay for it?

      Secondly, If you can develop a low cost technolo
      gy of treating water and
      perhaps we can put together so small e...dutainment production to raise awareness on Cholera,will this help?See More
      September 19 at 12:34am ·
    • Thomas Henry Culhane
      It's overwhelming Balogun, and I have no idea who will pay for prevention, so I'm hoping that the experiments will show effective ways to win value added products from fecal wastes at a community scale (gas and fertilizer for obvious, but then there are all the chemicals to be recovered, N, P, K are just the beginning). Then it might become in the interest of a waste recovery company to subsidize installation of units, perhaps with copayment by dwellers (shared ownership over wastes that have value and that actually belong to the consumer). But the point now is that people feel disempowered -- they watch their children die and feel overwhelmed, waiting with hurt resignation for some big entity to swoop in and make much needed reforms but unable to see how they can make a difference themselves. I am hoping that perhaps if they see people solving problems and turning them into opportunities for themselves, and it doesn't seem to require a major project to implement or a Ph.D. to understand, the WTP values will be there and encourage small enterprises to make small scale solutions more efficient and affordable. So we take the first step. And yes, an edutainment campaign would be a great start.See More
      September 19 at 12:44am ·

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Need for Psychrophiles

With our morning shower water going into the biodigestor at 32 C each day (after the long piping temp drop), the effluent water coming out of the insulated 1000 liter vessel today is still only 25 C which explains why gas production rate is low. But this underscores the need for psychrophiles, given that their production optima is at 25.

September 18 at 12:45pm
    • Thomas Henry Culhane Ambient temperature outside today is 16-17 C, colder at night.
      September 18 at 1:22pm ·
    • Charisma Acey Are the psychrophiles the ones living in the snow in the mountains?
      September 18 at 3:49pm ·
    • Thomas Henry Culhane
      yep, and I'm hoping we can mount an expedition to Kilamanjaro and the Mountains of the Moon in Uganda to harvest indigenous African varieties for a truly home grown (emphasize "grown") solution to waste management. I submitted a proposal y...esterday with Alton Byers and Ken Banks to National Geographic that included alpine biodigestion; if we don't get the grant we will submit elsewhere. Alton is a montane ecosystem specialist who does a lot of expeditions to Kilamanjaro for conservation. As you know, I think working with Africa's biodiversity is the future of the continent. Europe is kind of lame in the biological department (as is much of America) which is why they harp on energy intensive electrical-chemical-mechanical solutions to everything. The biological revolution and its evolutionary efficiencies is what is going to make Africa and Central and South America and tropical Asia leap ahead in my opinion, but we have to get people interested in it.See More
      September 18 at 4:00pm ·
    • Charisma Acey Agreed! Do you already have ideas for where else to submit for grant funds? I'll do some searches in Community of Science once I'm back.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Loving our new Insinkerator

Loving our new Insinkerator Evolution 200 (.75 HP) which was a gift from the company to connect with our porch biogas system. I installed in yesterday in time for the cold weather (our previous .45 HP Badger was on the porch). I ran pipes from the greywater pump that is under our bathtub to the digestor so now all ou...r kitchen waste immedately and automatically goes out as a slurry to make biogas and fertilizer. This unit grinds EVERYTHING so finally all those avocado pits and bones simply go down the drain and out to our renewable energy system. We now have NO organic waste to take out, no trash can, no fruit flies or garbage flies, no smells, no effort. Best of all, Sybille loves it too!

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October 16 at 2:28pm · · · Share
  • Azza Abdel Aziz likes this.
    • Thomas Henry Culhane
      I'm seriously wondering why anybody who has any means at all doesn't have a food scrap grinder. In Abu Dhabi, talking to one of the heads of Abu Dhabi Media company he said, "we used to be made to feel guilty about using food waste, as if it was a bourgeois luxury that somehow wasn't environmentally friendly. As if everybody in the city in apartments could compost. But now we are learning that these simple and mundane technologies are not only convenient but can be used to help fight pollution and climate change, and produce a superior compost and biogas."See More
      October 16 at 2:32pm ·
    • Simon Mulholland Is there an off grid version, pony powered perhaps? Seriously, is there a hand powered version?
      October 16 at 2:53pm ·
    • Thomas Henry Culhane
      I've written to the company and asked about this. I will be discussing it with their engineers in the near future. There isn't one available but I'm thinking like you are that one could and should be made. Still, the amount of electricity negligible all things considered -- it pulls about 350 watts for about 3 minutes a day. From 1000 liters of biogas (the daily average in warm climates for a family) we can run our generator for about 45 minutes. Given how much easier the Insinkerator makes creating the biogas the loss of even 5 minutes of that gas is well worth the investment. Nonetheless, I am with you -- any time I see rotation as the mechanical principle I'm thinking hand power, pedal power (or pony power?). Electricity is a high value fuel that is better used for applications for which there are few substitutes.See More
      October 16 at 3:25pm ·
    • Thomas Henry Culhane That's awesome Todd, I'd read the concept but not seen this particular photo and article. I'll share it with my network too! Thanks for connecting with me!
      October 16 at 3:26pm ·
    • Simon Mulholland
      I work with horses, and have noticed that very occasionally, a small pile appears behind horse. Why aren't we using this?
      Re the hand powered, or as an aero engineer I used to drink with insisted "mandraulic" sytems, I feel that the more you... can use the gas to produce heat, either for cooking or water, or as in the fridge for cooling, the more effective the system will be. But I totally accept your point, that using some power to generate much more is totally valid.See More
      October 16 at 3:33pm ·