Home biogas has been around for thousands of years and it was used for heating bath-water in Assyria in the 10th century and in Persia during the 16th century AD. Marco Polo wrote of ‘covered sewage ponds’, and the use of biogas goes back 2,000-3,000 years in Chinese literature.
So we can see that home biogas is not something new around the house! Biogas is currently being used by millions of people as a fuel for cooking and lighting in many countries. Just in China alone, and up until 2012 there are 42 million households using biogas*. The beauty of a home unit is that instead of some big company providing you with gas, you are in charge of your own energy production.
So what is biogas? It is a combustible gas mixture comprising around 60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide that is formed when organic materials, such as animal (and human) dung or vegetable matter are broken down by microbiological activity at warm temperatures (30 – 40°C or 50 – 60°C) in an anaerobic environment.
OK that is this science of biogas, but I hear you ask how do I make biogas in my home? In our free publication What Can Biogas Do For You we show the most popular home biogas designs. These designs are the Chinese fixed dome digester and the Indian floating cover biogas digester. There are of course other designs, which you can research by looking through the download section. If you don’t want to build a biogas plant, you can always purchase a unit off the shelf. View the biogas kits page for some ideas.
A small home biogas unit in an urban or city environment can produce useful amounts of biogas from just a 1Kg or so of organic waste per day. If your family lives in a rural setting, you might have access to much more organic biomass and you will produce considerable amounts of home biogas to heat all your water and power your whole living area.
* ISO TC 255 Business Plan 3.0, Draft Plan, January 2014.
More information on the ARTI digester and Tube digester