Monday, November 2, 2009

Capturing the gas!

Global climate change, greenhouse gases, cap-and-trade... these topics are reported daily on the media.
The serious business of managing emissions of climate-altering gases has hardly begun moving. The enormity of the task, as the 350 rallies on 10/24 highlighted, is almost enough to paralyze citizens and the politicians who represent them. We don't know where to start.
So, let's start with the most basic... the FOOD WE EAT.
Our bodies are "digesters," as we exhale we give off CO2, a byproduct of assimilating food, and as we emit flatulence, we give off CH4, methane.
This is no different that the function of the compost pile, the oft-cited methane from cow farts, and the escaped gases from landfills.
While we have little control over bodily functions, we can take responsibility for the manner in which organic waste is handled. Putting organic waste into tanks in the absence of oxygen compels decomposition by microorganism along reducing, as opposed to oxidizing, pathways. A "reduced" carbon originating from microbial decomposition of carbohydrate is methane gas. Methane is "natural gas," and can be stored and transported for use in heating and electrical generation. The "oxidation" of methane is the blue flame on the stove, but it can also be the fuel for hot water heater, furnaces, and for running engine generators for electricity.
So, let's reduce reliance on fossil natural gas sources by delivering our food and body wastes to anaerobic digesters for recovery of methane biogas.

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