Written by Audrey Robertson, ESLLC 2017-2018
It seems as if a Back to the Future idea has become a reality with the use of biodigester fermentation tanks. Last summer National Geographic released an article about how these tanks are turning organic waste into a clean form of solar energy called biogas. The creators, C.³I.T.I.E.S. (Connecting Community Catalysts Integrating Technologies for Industrial Ecology Solutions) want to create sustainability by using the biogas to create fuel and fertilizer. The fertilizer is used to help turn food back into food, creating a cycle of sustainable agriculture. The fuels can be used to power refrigerators, generators, cooking needs and more which are large sources of energy use in urban areas. If the resources for obtaining this energy can be recycled in a sense by using these tanks, we could create a more sustainable society.
I am optimistic that we will move in that sustainable direction since families can easily build these tanks for themselves. Activists have worked in communities, urging hospitals, schools, and churches to install these tanks. According to the article, corporations and the government also seem to back the movement as well. Sweden and Germany have installed bio digesters in masses and urban centers in the Middle East are following quickly in their footsteps. They have goals of becoming the cleanest city in the world, and hopefully the United States will join the bandwagon soon. The appeal of these digesters surpasses solar panels because they are much simpler and extremely more accessible and effective.
The benefits of this approach expand to different categories. One of the best parts about using garbage as a source of energy is it will always be available. The C.³I.T.I.E.S. Founder, T.H. Culhane points out that the wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine but people will ALWAYS continue to create waste. Another benefit of using these tanks is how it can decrease deforestation by replacing firewood with the produced fuel. It can also decrease the amount of air pollution in the air created by the burning of charcoal and kerosene in addition to wood. One of what I believe to be one of the most significant benefits include wiping out the spread of diseases from pests attracted to ill sanitation and garbage due to the fact the tanks kill 99% of pathogens from toilet waste. The creators goal is to eventually reach a “zero-waste” future with everyone taking part in this technology.