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← Home-scale biodigester | Janice Kelsey & Jody Spangler | TEDxVillanovaU

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  1. Janice Kelsey: Hi, I'm Janice.
    Jody Spangler: And I'm Jody.
  2. "Raising baby dragons to save the world."
  3. JK: Saving the world seems
    like a pretty big task,
  4. for ordinary people like you and me.
  5. JS: Not for a dragon.
  6. JK: Just for this time together,
  7. we want you to imagine
    a world where dragons live,
  8. where all children play on green grass,
  9. where women have access
    to clean cooking fuel,
  10. right in their own homes,
  11. where families can light
    and heat their homes
  12. at absolutely no cost.
  13. JS: Imagine, all this is true!
  14. JK: Allow us to introduce you
    to how together we can make this happen.
  15. We're moms, we're educators
  16. and recently, we and several other women
    have been dubbed "the women of biogas".
  17. (Laughter)
  18. We have become part of a growing
    global community on Facebook,
  19. called "Solar CITIES Biogas
    Innoventors & Practitioners",
  20. founded by dr. Thomas H Culhane.
  21. Over 6,000 members
    are learning and sharing
  22. a technology that we believe
    is an overlooked technology,
  23. called small-scale biogas,
    or home-scale biogas.
  24. This ancient technology is well-known
    in countries like India and China.
  25. JS: Still, many people
    have never even heard of it.
  26. JK: We're going to introduce you
    to your own baby dragon today;
  27. but before we do,
  28. you'll need to understand
    the meaning of two words,
  29. biodigestion and biogas.
  30. Most people are familiar with composting.
  31. In composting,
  32. we pile up our leaves
    and our grass clippings and garden waste
  33. into one big pile.
  34. Then we turn it from time to time,
    to mix air into the pile.
  35. It heats up and it breaks down
  36. because of something
    called aerobic bacteria.
  37. That's bacteria that likes air.
  38. After a few months,
  39. we have well-aged compost
    that we can put on our garden.
  40. In biodigestion we take our manure,
    our food waste and our garden waste
  41. and we put it into a closed container.
  42. The bacteria inside of this container
    digest the material,
  43. then we fill up the tank with water
  44. to remove all the air,
    because this bacteria does not like air.
  45. This bacteria breaks up the contents
    of the container within 24 hours.
  46. In a day, rather than months.
  47. The bacteria inside of you,
    me and any animal is anaerobic,
  48. which leads us to the word biogas.
  49. The meaning of the word biogas
    is much easier to understand.
  50. The dictionary says that biogas
    is a gaseous fuel, especially methane,
  51. produced by the fermentation
    of organic matter.
  52. In the relatively
    new field of permaculture,
  53. the biogas is considered
  54. one of the "appropriate technologies"
    in permaculture design.
  55. Now, to bring biogas
    down to a very basic level,
  56. I'm going to illustrate by using a word
  57. that you don't typically hear
    in such a prestigious venue as this.
  58. Are you ready?
  59. Fart.
  60. (Laughter)
  61. You knew it was coming.
  62. How many of you men,
    maybe even some of you ladies,
  63. lit or knew someone
    who lit a fart on fire
  64. because they didn't believe
    it would really work?
  65. And it did!
  66. Well, that is an example of biogas
    on a very small scale.
  67. Your body is a small-scale biodigester.
  68. You eat food;
  69. the bacteria in your gut digest that food;
  70. it creates gas; and you pass biogas.
  71. Pretty simple, right?
  72. Well, our baby dragon
    is much more delicate.
  73. This is the biogas stove in my kitchen.
  74. My baby dragon helps me
    to cook my breakfast on biogas,
  75. every morning, with a clean blue flame.
  76. Can you believe that you can cook meals
    on poop and food waste?
  77. (Laughter)
  78. Well we're going to show you how,
    beginning with conception.
  79. Jodi's going to help us put together
    the basic body parts.
  80. What we have here
    is an intermediate bulk container.
  81. Now, these containers are used
    to ship liquids all around the world.
  82. But once they're done with that,
    they become industrial trash.
  83. So we can recycle this trash
  84. and turn it into a source
    of sustainable energy.
  85. We first cut a hole in one corner,
  86. and then we cut a hole
    in the opposite corner.
  87. Now what Jodi's holding up
    are called uniseals.
  88. They're basically rubber gaskets
    that create a tight seal with no leaks.
  89. We would normally glue these in,
    but we're not going to do that today.
  90. Your baby dragon is going to need
    three basic sections:
  91. she is going to need
    a mouth and a throat;
  92. she's going to need an outlet
    that we'll talk more about later;
  93. and then she is also going to spit fire
    when she's old enough.
  94. She's going to spit biogas,
  95. so she's going to need
    an outlet for that too.
  96. The gas outlet is basically
  97. a combination of pipes
    and plumbing fixtures
  98. that get glued together
  99. and then fastened
    to the lid of the container.
  100. Let's take a look inside.
  101. Your little embryo of a dragon
  102. has a thin layer of stone
    in the bottom of its belly
  103. to create more surface area
    for the bacteria to live on.
  104. Next, your baby dragon
  105. is going to need
    some good healthy gut bacteria
  106. so we're going to add
    a nice thick layer of fresh manure.
  107. You can use cow, horse, chicken.
  108. Tou can even use dog or human manure
    or any combination of those.
  109. If you don't have any animals of your own
    offer to help clean out somebody's barn.
  110. JS: They will think you're crazy,
    but they'll appreciate it in the end.
  111. JK: Finally, we add water.
  112. Fill the tank with water.
  113. Now, we allow this to incubate
    for two to three weeks.
  114. Once the bacteria
    has digested what's in the manure
  115. it's going to get hungry,
    and it's going to look for food.
  116. And it's going to hatch!
  117. JS: Congratulations!
  118. (Laughter)
  119. JK: You are now the proud parent
    of a baby dragon,
  120. or what we call
    a solar cities IBC biodigester.
  121. Seriously, this is how easy
    and simple the technology is.
  122. But this is a living biological creature
    that needs to be cared for.
  123. Caring for a home-scale biodigester
    is just like raising a baby dragon.
  124. The first thing we need to learn
    about any baby is how to feed her.
  125. She has a mouth but she can't chew:
    she's just a baby with no teeth.
  126. We use an InSinkErator
  127. to grind our food waste
    with equal amounts of water
  128. to create baby food.
  129. You can also use
    a hand grinder or a blender.
  130. It works just as well.
  131. To feed this baby dragon
    we simply pour the food into her mouth.
  132. It'll go all the way down to the bottom
    where this pipe is cut at an angle.
  133. There you go.
  134. Once inside the belly of the baby dragon,
    the food will begin to digest.
  135. A heavier food at the bottom
    is going to digest more quickly
  136. because it's closest
    to the greatest number of bacteria.
  137. Oils and food that float to the top,
  138. they're going to digest
    a little more slowly.
  139. In the middle of the tank
    is our digested material.
  140. Now we all know, raising a baby
    is all about bodily functions.
  141. So keep in mind,
    her belly is full of water
  142. and what goes in must come out.
  143. Yes, your baby dragon pees.
  144. (Laughter)
  145. The liquid will be pulled up
    through the hole in that smaller pipe.
  146. I guess you can call this section
    your baby dragon's bladder.
  147. JS: This is liquid gold.
  148. JK: That is our very concentrated
    and perfect fertilizer.
  149. We can use it on our garden,
    we can water our lawn with it,
  150. we even share it
    with our gardening friends.
  151. And unlike composting,
  152. our baby dragon is a closed system
    at the perfect temperature,
  153. so this fertilizer has lost
    none of its nutrient value.
  154. And it shows, obviously it shows.
  155. Because my garden has never been
    as productive or as green.
  156. Small-scale,
  157. but there are many places
    that can benefit from small-scale biogas.
  158. Our team has chosen three
    to highlight for you today:
  159. right here in our own backyard
    of Pennsylvania;
  160. a school in Kenya;
  161. and a refugee camp in the Middle East.
  162. We truly believe that together
    we can change the world.
  163. Imagine giving women
    the ability to feed their families
  164. with clean, free cooking fuel
    made from manure and food waste.
  165. This is Susan.
  166. She lives in the Amish countryside,
  167. in a community that rarely uses
    electricity tied to the grid.
  168. She has a huge garden,
    and plenty of garden waste.
  169. She can use that fuel
    to cook and to heat a part of her home,
  170. and she can put the fertilizer
    right back on her garden.
  171. We can empower women like Susan
    here and around the world
  172. to do this in their own backyards.
  173. JS: Imagine that.
  174. JK: This can also be used
  175. in struggling communities
    around the world.
  176. This is a picture of
    "Rescue Team Kenya - Community School".
  177. It is located within
    an overcrowded labyrinth of tin shacks,
  178. in a hot climate,
  179. with no running water and no real toilets.
  180. The man in the orange shirt
    is Robert Ongera Ombeka.
  181. He lived in the slums, he's self educated,
    he got himself out of the slum
  182. and now he goes back
    every day to change lives.
  183. Together we managed to support Robert
    in setting up this little school
  184. with room enough for 15 students.
  185. Sixty-five children showed up
    the first day he opened the door.
  186. There is a powerful desire
    for education in Kenya,
  187. even among the most vulnerable:
  188. the impoverished, the orphaned,
    the hungry and even the sick.
  189. We are all about education.
  190. We care about empowering individuals
    to rise above their situation.
  191. But it begins we clean water,
    food and sanitation.
  192. Together as a community
  193. we managed to bring clean water,
    food and school supplies
  194. to this little makeshift school.
  195. Imagine these children
    learning how to grow food
  196. with the fertilizer they helped to make.
  197. Imagine smoke-free cooking
    in Kenya and around the world.
  198. Millions of people,
    mostly women and children,
  199. would no longer die
    from carbon-related illnesses,
  200. every year.
  201. JS: With no need for firewood,
    imagine an end to deforestation!
  202. JK: The village of Chittoor,
    India, did it.
  203. They call it the smoke-free village:
    every family uses a biodigester.
  204. Imagine: free biogas,
    no need for firewood, and there's more.
  205. Imagine connecting
    bio digesters to toilets.
  206. That would not only provide them
  207. with better sanitation,
    clean cooking fuel and fertilizer,
  208. but would also give them dignity.
  209. This is not a toilet that you see here.
  210. This is just the safest place
    for this young lady to relieve herself
  211. in Mukuru Slum.
  212. Our third idea relates to refugee camps.
  213. Our first experience
    with refugees was in 2005,
  214. when I became the advisor
    to a 15 year old boy from Baghdad, Iraq
  215. who came here as a youth ambassador.
  216. We've all seen photos of the refugee camps
    growing around the world.
  217. This crisis has become so severe
  218. that the number of people living
    in this refugee camp alone
  219. makes it equal to the second
    largest city in Jordan.
  220. They have nowhere to go.
  221. This refugee camp has evolved into a city.
  222. This is our crisis, it's happening now.
  223. This is in the news today.
  224. Mass migration,
    for various reasons, is real.
  225. Camps like this are not
    going away anytime soon.
  226. Imagine clean, accessible cooking fuel
    for every family in this refugee camp.
  227. Imagine how simple
    a process sanitation becomes,
  228. when dealing with human waste
    and food waste right on-site.
  229. Small-scale biogas is scalable:
  230. we can scale it up
    and we can scale it down.
  231. Is it for a small family like Susan's,
  232. or is it for a school,
    like Rescue Team Kenya,
  233. or is it for a community
  234. like the ever-growing number
    of refugee camps in the world today?
  235. Imagine an end to fracking.
  236. This is natural gas.
  237. Imagine no concerns about pipelines
    running for your neighborhood,
  238. because we create our own energy.
  239. We keep our waste, it has value.
  240. We turn it into energy, and we benefit.
  241. Imagine freedom from fossil fuels:
  242. countries like India and Sweden
  243. are running buses
    and trash trucks on biogas.
  244. We can too.
  245. The possibilities are endless.
  246. The rapid spread of this technology
    could have a profound, global impact.
  247. What can you do?
  248. Go online and learn more
    about solar cities and biodigestion.
  249. Join the biogas movement,
    and do this at home.
  250. Share this with your
    local community leaders,
  251. and encourage
    your department of agriculture
  252. to take a closer look
    at small-scale biodigestion.
  253. Through education,
    innovation and outreach,
  254. through the help
    of our heroic baby dragons
  255. and a whole lot of love,
  256. we can fix our eyes
    on a simple overlooked solution
  257. to what we now call waste.
  258. With biogas, there is no waste.
  259. We need you to help spread
    this gospel of God biogas.
  260. JS: This is the sign language for love.
  261. It's also the sign we're using for biogas.
  262. Inlet, outlet and gas.
  263. Imagine.
  264. (Applause)