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7/12: A working biodigester!

posted Jul 18, 2011, 8:33 AM by Julie Bateman   [ updated Jul 18, 2011, 8:58 AM ]
Exciting news to report from the Pantanal - a working biodigester! The biodigester takes cow manure from Eduardo's cows and while the refuse travels through 18-m of 200-mm PVC tube it releases methane gas which can be collected and used for cooking fuel. Cooking fuel tanks for the lodge and for our operations are currently transported from the nearest town about a two-and-a-half hour drive away form the site. The tanks each cost about R$50 (~$30) and in our experience lasted about a month for eight people having three meals a day, and the occasional afternoon bread or cake baking.

Our engineering team - Adrienne, Cassie, and Matt - have been meticulously monitoring the system, and in the last few days the efforts paid off in a bright blue flame from the presence of methane. Sadly, the biodigester team's masterpiece had to be dismantled as it does not yet have a reliable method to collect cooking gas. Fortunately, this will give the biodigester team and new recruits in the fall a good challenge to tackle for next summer. 

We all send our thanks to Prof. Wooldridge, who advised Adrienne and encouraged us to experiment with the biogester.