“Make your own composting toilet using a 55 gallon drum, peat-moss and a few other items.”
This is a great video because the Loveable Loo folks have gone the “open source” route in showing you how a sawdust toilet is built and giving you the option to be inspired by what they’ve done or to buy a Loveable Loo from them.
This is a simple sawdust toilet – one component in a humanure composting system. They use a plastic bucket that needs to be emptied into a composter/compost bin.
This is the best small farm biogas system video I’ve seen so far.
As with many other useful technologies, we don’t hear much about biogas in this part of the world while it’s being rolled out extensively in the developing world and is a technology that could be universally useful.
Here a small farmer, Edward, in Uganda shows us his underground biogas system. It’s actually pretty elaborate and if maintained properly, he says should last about 70 years.
Edward keeps cows and sheep but seems to just use the cow’s dung and urine for the biogas system. He says that he mixes one part dung and one part water or urine and lets this mixture drop into a digester.
From the digester the digested solids and gas are separated in an underground dome (7 feet deep and 14 feet across).
From there the gas is piped into the farm house to the stove (which looked pretty much like a normal propane stove to me) and to fuel one gas lamp (which I found produced very dim light, but before they probably had no light at night or used kerosene lamps, so for them it’s a huge improvement).
The digested solids, now good for use as fertilizer/compost, drain out into a kind of pond area.
Edward notes that the covers to all of the biogas system access points are very heavy concrete to prevent children or vandals from fiddling around with them and either falling into the dome to their deaths or letting the precious biogas escape.
As he shows us his biogas system, Edward also points out his 10,000 liter rain water collection cistern.
Note that this system only uses waste from livestock but that other systems would also use humanure.
John Njendahayo, a Ugandan engineer, explains more about this kind of domed biogas system. Cue the following video to 4:25 where he starts to talk about the system itself. He covers the sizing of the systems, the relationship of input to output and what you can run on the biogas (including a modified paraffin fridge).
The system uses dome shapes so that none of the gas gets trapped in corners as it would in a rectangular digester. He notes that the reason for burying the digesters is to keep the temperature constant for the bacteria.
Here he talks about being able to sell the compost the digester produces as fertilizer and about needing to clear the pipes of condensation and how the gas is piped into the house.
Loren Luyendyk from Santa Barbara Organics talks about water.
– How you can use swales to redirect water on your property and also to encourage water that might otherwise flow away, taking topsoil with it to sink into the soil.
– Mulching to help retain water in the soil.
– Collecting rain water and storing it in tanks, in plants on your land and in manmade ponds
– Greywater – Use water more than once. Really easy set-ups and more complicated ones.
– Blackwater (sewage) – Treating the sewage with vegetation. Gives a reed bed example,
– Flowforms to oxygenate water
Laura Allen shows us her composting toilet system. She is using a toilet that separates urine and feces, with feces being deposited into bins under her house. From there she dumps it into a sealed compost bin for a year, after which it has broken down into an inoffensive compost that she uses in her garden.
On the tour of her bathroom, she also mentions that her bathroom sink directly waters plants in her garden with its greywater (since it’s a sink, in this case, greywater is likely soapy water).
I understood that the composting process breaks down any pathogens that might be in the feces, but wondered whether substances like any drugs the person may have been taking would remain.
I also would have loved to see where the urine was diverted and what she did with it.