I am following for several months the company HomeBiogas, a revolutionary backyard appliance that transforms leftover food-waste into biogas, capable for 2 hours of cooking per day, and organic, liquid fertiliser. What impresses me is the scale of HomeBiogas products. With less than US $ 1000, you can buy a household anaerobic digester that can provide the equivalent of 6,000 BTUs for 2 hours or 1.75 kWh per day.
Technically, the system operates as a continuous-flow system, i.e. waste is fed in one end, and the gas and fertilizer are emitted from the other. A unique patented mechanism regulates the gas pressure, enabling the gas to be delivered at a constant and predictable pressure, as required for stable use. The generated biogas is filtered by an active, special purpose filter to remove any unpleasant odors and toxic gases such as hydrogen sulfide (H2S). The liquid fertilizer is sanitized by running through a chlorine tablet to reduce the amount of active bacteria in the effluence. The company provides special instructions for all the required works to fit HomeBiogas to your home and utilise it in the best way.
I asked for an interview the CEO of HomeBiogas Mr. Oshik Efrati (see few words about his career at the end of this post) and he was kind enough to provide some short but thoughtful answers to my questions. I am sure you will enjoy them – keep following HomeBiogas, there is a possibility that they open the way for a new era of a much more decentralised waste management.
Speaking as a citizen, please let me know why I should use HomeBiogas products and what will be the benefits for me and the environment.
HomeBiogas empowers end users. Those who have HomeBiogas 2.0 in their backyard are responsible for where their organic waste goes and where their cooking gas comes from. They are not dependent on outside suppliers, gas prices, international relations of countries etc. This is a very empowering feeling. Also, it is an appliance that reduces 6 tons of carbon emissions annually. It is the equivalent of taking 1 car of the road!
HomeBiogas seems to provide the first household anaerobic digestion plant. What were the technical challenges involved for delivering such a small scale, still effective, solution?
The technical challenges were bringing down the cost so that ordinary families can afford the appliance. We do not believe that renewable and clean energy should be only afforded to the well-off. We want everyone to have the chance to be sustainable and improve their cooking conditions.
How many units are used today?
We have 1,000 units of HomeBiogas 1.0 in use today.
Some people are afraid for the safety aspects of biogas – how do you deal with those concerns?
HomeBiogas 2.0 was designed and tested by engineers with 10 years of field experience in biogas. It received the European Community CE stamp of approval for safety. The company received 2 ISO certifications. Currently an ISO standard for domestic biogas doesn’t even exist. HomeBiogas is actually heading the committee establishing the ISO standards for domestic biogas – so you might say that HomeBiogas is literally setting the standard for household biogas safety!
What do you think for the next steps of your company? What is the vision and maybe the next generation of products?
We are currently working to integrate an off-grid, eco-flush toilet with HomeBiogas 2.0. The off-the-grid toilet can be easily assembled and connected to HomeBiogas, where it will turn waste into biogas and fertilizer. It will be a great waste management solution for the 2.3 billion people who still do not have basic sanitation facilities such as toilets or latrines.
Your products are setting the scene for a new type of decentralised waste treatment activities, even on a household level. Do you think that there will be more options for waste treatment and recycling on such a small scale? Can we speak that we are getting into the era where big treatment facilities will become less necessary as they will be substituted, at least partially, by small scale decentralised solutions?
We sure hope so. We hope that individuals can start taking action into their own hands and treating their own organic waste. Because it is possible, feasible and affordable.
Oshik Moshe Efrati has studied Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography. He has worked a lot in sustainability issues, small scale water projects and product design. As the CEO of HomeBiogas he deals with developing, manufacturing and sales of the household renewable biogas system. In addition his work involves product development, including liaison with Governmental organizations, the Israel Innovation Authority, International Standardizing Associations, investors, Patent Registrars etc.