We're cooking with gas - Gobar Gas
June 12, 2010 7:23 AM   Subscribe

Conflict-blogger Michael Yon with a fascinating piece about Nepal, Afghanistan, the Gurkhas and the incredible technology of "Gobar Gas".

"Gobar is the Nepali word for cow dung. The “Gas” refers to biogas derived from the natural decay of dung, other waste products, and any biomass. The gas is easily collected and stored for lighting, cooking and other household uses. After bacteria digest the dung, the by-product is a rich organic fertilizer, sometimes called slurry, or bioslurry. That fertilizer is more effective than raw dung, with important benefits for hands-on farmers. For instance, it doesn’t smell bad, and almost all the pathogens and weed seeds have been destroyed.

There is no downside. No waste. No poisonous residues or batteries. Few moving parts. Gobar Gas is an astonishingly elegant tap into “the circle of life” which environmentalists, economists, development people and humanitarians can all admire."

Dutch NGO SNV, which has been instrumental in bringing Biogas to developing countries in South East Asia and Africa, is now looking at developing biogas in Afghanistan.

Michael Yon - "It’s important to consider the less easily monetized yet real benefits from using Gobar Gas. Saving 2,500 kilograms of trees per family each year has long-term economic value, and it keeps the birds and squirrels happy. Improved health from better sanitation and the absence of constant wood smoke in the home has clear economic benefits, as does the ability to send children, freed from the labor of searching for fuel, to school. These items, and many others, don’t fit on a balance sheet, but they improve conditions for real, long-term economic and social development. Health and education are the foundations of human capital needed to sustain a wealthier, more advanced society."
posted by Happy Dave (19 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
maybe afghanistan discovered jenkem first
posted by Hammond Rye at 7:45 AM on June 12, 2010

Simple, elegant, appropriate - kind of awesome.
posted by Artw at 7:57 AM on June 12, 2010

wonderful post, thank you

another one on hilarious attempts to set up "gobar" gas unit
posted by infini at 8:38 AM on June 12, 2010

Here's a gas unit build done in Vietnam.
Let the inspiring music and purple colors soothe you. Or not.

I've had this recurring fantasy (since I was 8) to build an underground Hobbit house. Where's my Burnet Umber crayon, because I'm about to draw my energy source..
posted by hanoixan at 9:03 AM on June 12, 2010

this is fracking awesome--about six kinds of win all in one.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 10:00 AM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Really interesting, I've never heard of this. Thanks.
posted by nevercalm at 10:05 AM on June 12, 2010

This is really cool. Would be very interesting to see this implemented on a city wide level in a modern setting. How much poop power could a city of a 100,000 generate? Would we have to separate urine from feces or does it all go in?
posted by doctor_negative at 11:12 AM on June 12, 2010

The Master: Who run Bartertown? Who... run... Bartertown?
Auntie Entity: ...You know who.
The Master: Say.
Auntie Entity: Master Blaster.

When I read about this, this was my first thought. My second was- if they can do this, why aren't we with the tremendous amounts of livestock crap generated in the midwest every year? (Well, not just the midwest, but when I think of pig farming, I think of Iowa.)
posted by Hactar at 1:10 PM on June 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

How much poop power could a city of a 100,000 generate?

The city of Flint plans to find out. Apparently it's working well in Sweden.
posted by various at 1:35 PM on June 12, 2010

Alright, who farted?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:45 PM on June 12, 2010

Are there any implementations of this that could be done in an urban setting? This could be HUGE in urban China, especially the north, if there were some way to refit it to old apartment blocks...
posted by saysthis at 4:47 PM on June 12, 2010

Biogas has been in use in China since the 1970s. There are millions of digesters in operation. It turns out that the third world is way ahead on this, but then what do you expect when the individual carbon footprint is so low. A larger impact would be if large scale cattle feedlots in the American Midwest and chicken farms on the Chesapeake we ere required to use this technology. The result would be a significant decline in methane pollution as well as an improvement in water quality.
posted by humanfont at 5:28 PM on June 12, 2010

this has been going on in india for as long as i can remember!
posted by daveeza at 5:35 PM on June 12, 2010

Great photos and some inspiring outcomes. Are there any good charities that support building these things?
posted by pkingdesign at 5:39 PM on June 12, 2010

Anyone familiar with effective methods of compressing the gas? That apparatus in infini's link looks needlessly complex.
posted by Chuckles at 11:15 PM on June 12, 2010

check out Appropedia and if you can simplify it, contribute
posted by infini at 1:24 AM on June 13, 2010

Chuckles: Yes, a gravity bong in a 50 gallon drum. The only complexity is that you need a check valve to keep water out of the stove. A check valve can be built of pipe (bamboo) and bicycle inner tube or leather.
posted by dirty lies at 1:49 AM on June 13, 2010

great article. I'm sure decentralized energy also helps in limiting corruption as once its in the ground its there. Maybe there's hope out there afterall
posted by NGnerd at 9:44 AM on June 13, 2010

I guess what I'm asking is, why can't you just rig up a pump and fill some pressure vessels? What does the water displacement do for you? And now that I ask, maybe I see the answer.. Simple/cheap pressure regulator?
posted by Chuckles at 9:44 PM on June 13, 2010

« Older The Leaning Tower of Lego   |   The June 12, 1982 March and Rally for Peace and... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments