Fuels from waste

Waste from fuel meets many permaculture principles including catch and store energy, obtain a yield and produce no waste.

There are a number of ways of producing fuel from waste, including:

Anaerobic Digestion, the use of bacteria to decompose organic matter in the absence of oxygen to produce gases. These gases are produced from organic wastes such as livestock manure or food processing waste. The end product is a medium heating value biogas mixture (usually 60% methane, 40% carbon dioxide) and a mixture of solid and liquid fertiliser. Because anaerobic digestion does not produce any more carbon dioxide than would normally be produced from the wastes natural decomposition, it is said to be ‘carbon neutral’.

Gasification involves heating organic waste with a reduced amount of oxygen and/or steam. It produces a synthetic gas, known as syngas, which can be burned independently in a boiler, engine or gas turbine to produce electricity.

Pyrolysis is carried out in the total absence of oxygen. It also produces an energy-rich gas and solid residue. These can then be burned separately to produce electricity. In some pyrolysis processes, the gases are condensed into a liquid fuel. e.g. pyrolysis of waste. Tyres can be used to produce an alternative to diesel fuel.

Incineration involves burning organic material such as waste to produce electricity and heat. Conventional waste incineration plants use the heat produced to generate electricity using a steam turbine. In some cases it is also possible to use the left-over heat. The government is encouraging the development of such combined heat and power (CHP) plants which may be able to provide businesses with a source of heat, where the necessary transmission infrastructure exists or can be installed at reasonable cost.

Biodiesel from waste cooking oils: used cooking oils can be filtered and treated on a domestic scale, and on a larger scale, to run converted diesel cars.

Some landfill sites recover methane which is produced naturally when biological waste breaks down in the absence of oxygen. It can be used to generate energy. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and contributes towards climate change if it is not captured.

Related resources...

How to generate your own biogas and organic fertiliser from food waste and farm waste. (Video 35:00 min) by Flexi Biogas
Our World: brought to you by United Nations University
ARTICLE : Making BioGas is Easy - PermacultureNews.org
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ARTICLE : Biogas Plant Using Kitchen and Food Waste - instructables.com
Article: Home-sized biogas unit turns organic waste into cooking fuel and fertilizer, for under $900 - treehugger.com
The Ocean Cleanup Website
ARTICLE : Study shows using oat hulls for power has considerable benefits to the environment and human health - phys.org
ARTICLE : Turning Waste into Energy! - homebiogas.com
Fatboy Gasifier - Open source project
ARTICLE : Arava Institute Home Device Turns Trash Into Biogas Fuel
ARTICLE : Biogas Project at PRI Sunshine Coast Conclusion
ARTICLE : Biogas Project at PRI Sunshine Coast
Video and Article : Turning Plastic back to Oil
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Another Kind of Garden - The Methods of Jean Pain
Tutorial de Construction: Bio-Digesteur ARTI à Toit Coulissant
Practical Action - Build Manual: ARTI Floating Dome Biodigester
The Compost Power Network - "Jean Pain Mound" Compost Power Technique
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Nepal Biogas Plant - Construction Manual
Manual for the construction and operation of small and medium size biogas systems
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BioGas System - with Geoff Lawton
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ARTI Compact biogas plant Construction introduction Part 1
Portable Biogas Plant - Mailhem Ikos
Earthrise - Plastic Fuel
Importing garbage for energy is good business for Sweden
Agrilab Technologies Compost Heat Recovery Overview
Sheboygan Wastewater Treatment Plant - Wisconsin, United States (English)
Capstone Turbine residential cogeneration and trigeneration (CHP or CCHP)
Fatboy Gasifier - Open source project
The Arava Institute Biogas Project v1
Plastic to Oil Fantastic
How To Make Biodiesel Using A Used Cooking Oil