Category: Fertilizer

I came across an article on how biomethane from various organic wastes is being tapped on the local scale in rural China and on the municipal scale in Beijing.

Beginning in 2000, the Agricultural Ministry of China has fostered sustainable development by promoting integrated biogas technologies with the goals of protecting ecology and the environment while also increasing farmers’ income. Full-scale projects have been implemented in over 1000 rural counties.

Construction is based on the family unit and is coupled with educational guidance on how to eliminate inefficient crop production practices, and to effectively utilize land, solar energy and biological resources. Rural methane power generation is the most significant piece of this energy-revolution program.

Structural improvements to toilets and animal sheds allow for the collection of human and animal wastes, rice straw and daily trash which serves as the raw material to generate methane. Methane ranges and cook stoves, heating and lighting fixtures powered by home-grown methane do not emit smoke and dust, thus eliminating health hazards often associated with burning raw waste materials or coal.

The liquid and solid remains after the fuel is siphoned off serves as fertilizer to enrich the soil, prevent plant diseases and control pests. Completing the natural cycle by returning materials to the earth in this way increases crop production and eliminates costs of fertilizers and pesticides. It also helps to build the rural economy.

Methane power generation has also been extended into cities in China. Methane is now being collected from the Asuwei Landfill in the Changping District of Beijing and used to generate power. This is the first city landfill methane in Northern China. Not only is it generating useful electricity, it is helping to eliminate odor problems and resolving safety concerns posed by methane emissions from decomposing organic wastes. While improving the environment in surrounding areas, this project is also providing enough electrical power to serve 17,000 families for one year in Beijing!


UK fuel and fertilizer from stable waste

A horse jockey club in the UK has revealed plans to create a biomass power plant run exclusively on horse manure from the stables.

In an article published from, GG Eco Solutions have proposed to install the facility at Jockey Club Estates land at Southfield Farm in Newmarket, UK. The plant will convert stable waste into biomass fuel (to heat nearby schools and businesses), as well as to produce fertilizer for use on nearby gallops, studs and farmland.

Totaling 25,000 tonnes of waste per year, the club has been seeking an alternative method of disposal for years.


Poultry power in the Netherlands

Poultry Power is big news in Holland!

The world’s largest  biomass plant to run exclusively on chicken manure has come onstream in the Netherlands! Constructed by Delta, the Dutch multi-utility company, it has a 36.5 megawatt capacity to convert about 440,000 tons of chicken manure into 270 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year. It will transform the burden of high-cost waste processing into enough electricity to power 90,000 homes. It appears the utility is burning the waste rather than using anaerobic digestion to extract the energy value, since the news is reporting that the ash remaining will be used for fertilizer and other agricultural products.

King of Green Gold

Excerpts from The methods of Jean Pain: Or another kind of garden, by Ida and Jean Pain, in English, self-published 1980, 88 pages, photos, out of print.

Until recently, Jean Pain was an unknown. Today, he’s hailed as “the king gold,” and energy experts from all over the globe have come to Domaine des Tenipliers to study the miracle Pain has wrought: an amazingly simple, and incredibly inexpensive system that extracts both energy and fertilizer (gold) from plant life (green). These scientists are hopeful that Pain’s new process will go a long way in helping overcome the worldwide shortage of fuel. …

I knock on the door and am greeted warmly by Jean Pain and his wife, Ida. Jean, I notice, has a wrestler’s build and a hermit’s calm. He accompanies me to about 50 metres from the front door and shows me the object of the world’s attention — a home-made power plant that supplies 100 per cent of the Pains’ energy needs. What I see is a mound, three metres high and six across, made of tiny pieces of brushwood.

This vegetable cocktail, Pain explains, made of tree limbs and pulverized underbrush, is a compost, much like the pile of decaying organic matter that people build in their gardens, using food scraps and leaves. Buried inside the 50-ton compost, he says, is a steel tank with a capacity of four cubic metres. It is three-fourths full of the same compost, which has first been steeped in water for two months. The tank is hermetically sealed, but is connected by tubing to 24-truck-tyre inner tubes, banked nearby in piles. The tubes serve as a reservoir for the methane gas produced as the compost ferments.

“Once the gas is distilled, washed through small stones in water — and compressed,” Pain explains, “we use it to cook our food, produce our electricity and fuel our truck.” He says that it takes about 90 days to produce 500 cubic metres of gas — enough to keep Ida’s two ovens and a three-burner stove going for a year. Leading to a room behind the house, he shows me the methane-fuelled internal combustion engine that turns a generator, producing 100 watts every hour. This charges an accumulator battery, which stores the current, providing all the Pains need to light their five-room house.

As Ida drives off in their truck, I see on the roof two gas bottles shaped like long cannon shells. These have a capacity of five cubic metres of compressed gas, allowing her to drive 100 kilometres. Jean says that ten kilos of brush-wood supply the gas equivalent of a litre of high-test petrol. All that is needed to use it as motor fuel is a slight carburettor adjustment.

We walk back to the compost. Jean points to a- 40-millimetre-thick plastic tube that runs from a well, through the heap and on to a tap inside the house. He explains that compost heats as it ferments, raising the temperature so that cold water, arriving from the well after passing through 200 metres of tubing wound round the tank, emerges at 60 degrees C. I personally confirm that the water arrives cold at the “cake” and comes out scalding. Once inside the house, the hot water circulates through radiators and heats the house. The compost heap continues fermenting for nearly 18 months, supplying hot water at a rate of four litres a minute, enough to satisfy the central heating, bathroom and kitchen requirements. Then the installation is dismantled and a new compost system is set up at once to assure a continuous supply of hot water.

Excerpts republished in Reader’s Digest, November 1981; available online at:

Chicken power!

The US Department of Agriculture  reports that a leading German egg and hatchling producer is converting chicken manure to biogas and fertilizer. The facility is powered 70% by chicken manure. The remaining fuel sources are corn silage and grass silage retrieved from landscaping. The materials are mixed with water, and anaerobic bacteria do the work, with the help of a patented European process.

After the biomethane is extracted, the liquids and solids are separated. The solids are dried and compressed into compost pellets. This process makes the fertilizer value more easily accessible to plants, and eliminates the dust associated with using unprocessed chicken waste as fertilizer.

One quarter of the used liquid is processed into highly concentrated liquid fertilizer. The remaining 75% of the process water is fed back into the process stream.

The biomethane is sent to a combined heat and power plant where it is used to produce electricity and heat. The biomethane produces enough electricity to heat 4,600 households, replacing 475,000 gallons of heating oil. The electricity is fed into the public power grid.  Energy produced is also being used to heat the plant’s chicken stables and office buildings.  Plans to supply excess heat  to neighboring facilities are also in the works.

How great is that? More information:

Powered by WordPress | Theme: Motion by 85ideas.