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Blast Off!

Posted Saturday 1st December 2012, 11:00pm
Blast Off!

The events of the last month have been quite hectic - notably the last week - and I’ve neglected to keep the website updated. If you want to know more, remember that I post quite regularly on Facebook and Twitter for project updates and other interesting dog poo tidbits. This coming Monday is the day I visit my orthopedic surgeon Professor Choong for my 2 1/2 year review. The CT scan has already been done so it’s now just getting the results and checking on my progress. But I have been mindful that when these checkpoints come around I tend to be driven to work faster, almost as if the hourglass is running out of sand. So as a result I have lots to update you on:

Uses of biogas energy

In the previous post, I discussed how biogas was produced by using a biogas generator (or “methane digester”) and highlighting that the production of biogas is amongst the cleanest and least toxic in the world. Lately I’ve been talking a lot about how the energy can be used. Biogas is used all over the world and the energy from the direct combustion of raw biogas is seen in traditional uses like cooking, heating or lighting. There are already commericalised products on the market that take advantage of individual biogas generators. To give you an idea, Nepal has the largest per capita use with about 170,000 biogas generators (2008); and India had an estimated 2 million in use in 2000.

Getting sufficient quantities of biogas from large-scale systems we can start to look at gas turbines and fuel cells to produce electricity, or transport uses. Sweden is one of the best examples I’m aware of as more than half the gas used in their 11,500 natural gas vehicles (including buses) is biogas:

“Being able to use biogas – which is often obtained from organic waste – instead of fossil fuels means that vehicle emissions with an impact on climate largely come to an end. Biogas produces lower emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulates, for example, than diesel. In addition, biogas buses are quieter.”  The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

But the key point in using biogas is that its impurities (such as water vapor, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide) must be moved before using it as an energy source, and when it has been upgraded to a quality similar to fossil natural gas it is also known as Renewable Natural Gas (RNG).

Leader all the way

Paws on Poo Power!

Leader Community Newspapers have been great Poo Power! ambassadors and published a follow-up story last week for their Yarra and Progress editions.

Another round of great photos, this time by Paul Loughnan who during the shoot mentioned that the biogas generator I have sitting backyard doesn’t smell, quickly debunking a common misconception!

The article’s publication triggered another local Melbourne radio interview with Glenn Ridge on MyMP (1377 AM) who loved the story and we had a giggle discussing the masses of dog poo that we acculumate. It’s pretty hard keeping a straight face when talking about Poo Power!

Communicating biogas

BEA12

In the daily conversations I have I’m continually surprised by the goodwill and generosity of the various organisations and community groups that meet with. The most recent is a community group from Toronto who wishes to set up their own co-op dog waste digester for which I wrote a letter of support for a grant application. (Very exciting work is happening behind the scenes and I’ll make an announcement in the new year.)

Ronn and Daniel from Toronto were especially interested in the communication side of my project. Coincidentally this was the topic of my presentation to the Australian Bioenergy Conference last Monday. The session was entitled “Poo Power! The communication and engagement of biogas science and technology with the general public" and the abstract can be seen at this previous project update.

In short, I provided an overview of the perception of the biogas industry from a society that is now more urbanised and the challenges that the industry faces. I then outlined the model that I am using to engage Australians in the science of biogas/bioenergy using dogs as the leverage point. I concluded by stating that Poo Power! is more about people (not dogs) and the inclusion of biogas in a renewable energy portfolio is dependent on how effectively we can communicate the sectors benefits/potential to wider stakeholders, notably the general public. No easy task! The presentation certainly raised a few eyebrows as it was a unique session in a very conservative program of academic research and project updates.

Here's my presentation and I’ll be happy to answer any questions.

Launchpad

The optimum temperature for the microbes used in biogas generation is between 29-35'C. The temperature last Thursday was 38'C which was the day Poo Power! had its first public event in Melbourne at Edinburgh Gardens. It was evident that the heat scared away a few people as it was the first hot day of the season, but we still put on a good show. We gave out compostable dog poo bags provided generously by Because We Care, fridge magnets and homemade dog cookies (with its recipe). I didn’t stop talking for 3 hours to local residents, the local Mayor (Jackie Fristacky) and Yarra Councillors, Melbourne Water, Pet Homestay... one guy even came all the way from Ballarat to check us out!

Diesel was there too, hiding in the shade but he also had some competition in the form of a mascot (made by The Costume Factory). It’s was hilarious. He would have stayed longer if the weather was kinder to us. Photos of the event have been published on Facebook.  

However if you missed out, the next opportunity will be the Sustainable Living Festival next year. So pencil in your calendars to come to Federation Square sometime on the weekend of 14-17 February, 2013. Once I know my presentation time in the ‘Big Tent’ I’ll let you know. But if you can’t wait to then and if you represent your local community group or organisation please get in touch and we can talk over a coffee (or cold drink if preferred).

Happy scooping,

Duncan

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Diesel

Diesel is an inspiration. Plus he makes some of the poo. Diesel is proof that one pooch can make a difference.

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