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Waste to biochar via rocket stove

 
Bill Bianchi
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I know I'm heading into a malodorous subject, so feel free to bail, if you're squeamish.

I'll just get right to it; the straight poop, if you will.. Couldn't a rocket stove safely turn human, dog, and cat feces into biochar? And wouldn't that biochar be safe to use as a soil amendment? If the exhaust gas (crappy smoke) from the waste chamber were piped into the intake of the rocket stove so it can be completely incinerated in the flue, adding to the stove's heat in the process, would that be an environmentally clean way to process that waste without polluting the air?

Just thinking of turning waste into something useful, here. I know using raw human, cat, and dog feces for fertilizer on food crops presents a danger due to organisms (pathogens) in the feces that can contaminate the crops and make folks sick when they eat those crops. Came up with this as a way to process that waste safely and put it to use farming or gardening. Sort of like killing two birds with one stone; waste elimination and useful biochar from one process.

A couple of the possible pros are:
Less water usage for waste management.
An ongoing, dependable supply of raw material for biochar.
Possible cogeneration for home hot water needs.
The waste gasses from the raw waste would become extra fuel for the fire, sort of making the waste turn itself into biochar.
A portion of the resulting biochar might be used as fuel for the rocket stove, augmented by the exhaust gas from the next batch of feces to be converted.
Less reliance on wood to fuel the stove.
Compost toilets would be necessary for this process, so way less water used for flushing.

Cons:
SMELL
It's dirty work.

I have 2 dogs and my partner and I have built an extremely hot burning rocket-type stove. I'm always on the lookout for ways to use our stove. Producing biochar was on my list of uses for the stove from the start anyway, so of course I go to extremes in my screwed up head. Next step, in my messed up mind, is to open a dog poop scooping business for profit and use the poop I collect from homes to make biochar at my place. Sell that biochar, too, for more profit.

BTW, I plan to turn the weeds at my place, which I'm well blessed with, into biochar as well.

Okay, is this a good idea or is it---wait for it---wait--- a crappy idea?
 
tel jetson
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Location: woodland, washington
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I really have no idea if it would work or not, but I do know that shit generally has a substantial amount of water in it and that said water would need to be evaporated before anything started charring. water takes a lot of energy to evaporate. an awful lot. even if you use an efficient rocket stove for the job, that's still a substantial amount of energy that could be used for more useful endeavors.

since you're clearly interested in using your shit for some constructive purpose, I would suggest composting it, running it through red worms, or feeding it to black soldier fly larvae. I can't see any real harm in trying our your char idea, though.
 
Bill Bianchi
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Thanks, Tel. Actually, I'm more interested in using my dog's crap for something useful. I'm going to test this out that way first. If it works, we might go to the next step.
I'd dehydrate it a bit before putting it on the stove. Solar dehydrators could do this, at least during the summer. I live on 5 acres, so it would work without pissing off my neighbors. But, it might not work in other situations.
This may not be necessary for those living near plenty of trees, but for folks in the dry, desert areas, it might come in handy.
Or, for the truly impoverished majority of the world who don't have plenty of trees, say, parts of Africa and the Middle East and South America, something goofy-sounding like this could make a real difference. A real difference in this case may mean the difference between life and death down the road, when you consider the impact of building up the soil to grow crops of food where they won't grow right now. Don't know about you all, but it makes me sick to see starvation anywhere on this planet when there are solutions to prevent it in the first place. No matter where large populations live and what resources are or are not available, crap happens consistently.
 
allen lumley
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Bill Bianchi: Are you any where near a municipally designated Dog Park? If you were to volunteer to be the final disposal co-ordinator(See how much nicer it sounds with a title?)
and supply a receptacle for immediate disposal, to be picked up by you at your convenience - Hell you might even get paid to take it away !

Anyway I for one would like to read how you are coming along with this project, you are after all running a type of incinerator and most hospitals and quite a few undertakers run
these things with zero comment from their neighbors ! Good luck ! Big Al
 
Martijn Stokkers
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Location: The Netherlands
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this dude seems to have method of biochar production that might be able to turn fecal biomass in to a biochar...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXMUmby8PpU

i hope this gives you some inspriration...
 
Bill Bianchi
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Martijn, very good video find. Our rocket-type stove has no problem providing those temps, and then some. It's evidence this is possible. Thank you.

Allen, thank you for a more appropriate title. I'll have to rethink the business names I had in mind. Crap Keepers isf now off the table.

http://m.fastcompany.com/1805296/how-biochar-will-help-kenya-go-green-and-save-money

This link is to an article about making & using biochar in Kenya. With any luck, this will catch on and spark programs in areas where food security is an issue. The Gates foundation apparrently awarded a grant to test turning human waste into biochar over there, both for soil fertilizer and cooking fuel.

This is one of those technologies that more people should be aware of. When something is new, it scares people and makes them extremely resistant to it, whatever IT happens to be. Once folks see the benefits to this, maybe it'll become more acceptable to actually implement it. Only after that point can anything begin to change. If folks in this country begin using this to deal with pet waste, the tech will move into common knowledge and be ready to be accepted when truly needed.
Type 'coming North American water shortage' into Google and read what comes up. Might become important down the line to reduce the amount of water required to deal with our waste. Wouldn't it be cool if we could do that and produce biochar at the same time for farming and to power a few water desalination plants? When the time comes, if this technology is widely known and commonly used, perhaps we can actually use it as a partial solution on an industrial scale without so much resistance.
 
Matt Marksman
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I would have to experiment but what if you filled the riser in heat stove with feces instead of vermiculite etc. Stinky mess or biochar chamber maybe? Play with holes and other stuff like that in the temporary removable riser.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Bill Bianchi wrote:Thanks, Tel. Actually, I'm more interested in using my dog's crap for something useful. I'm going to test this out that way first. If it works, we might go to the next step.
I'd dehydrate it a bit before putting it on the stove. Solar dehydrators could do this, at least during the summer. I live on 5 acres, so...


The very idea of dehydrating dog poop in a dehydrator so you can run it through a rocket mass heater is giving me heebie jeebies! I'm a big fan of composting toilets so I'm not squeamish about poop, but your idea adds unnecessary handling of fresh poop and technical facilities to a problem that would more elegantly be solved by any kind of simple compost system that comes to your hand! Don't foul your dehydrator, rmh or hands with fresh or dried uncomposted poop. Just compost it!
 
Matt Marksman
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I'm not talking about dehydrating it. Just throw it all in the heat riser as is just for a college try. Sorry if somewhere i it came across that way. I'm sure the moisture would leave quickly in the riser or just let the dog turds dry out a little on the ground before you shovel them in there. Maybe rabbit crap would work good, then you'd have bio-char balls when done lol. These choices are more viable in the winter when the feces may be piling up more than in summer when it's gone in days from rain or sun drying it out too much. Fertilizing non edibles may be another choice where the stench won't irritate anyone.I unfortunately live on 1/8th acre lot and it sucks if you do step in poop barefoot. A dog is almost pointless unless for security when in such small quarters. We have a husky and you could steal everything we have or do whatever you desire while the dog would just sit there. It also doesn't bark when anyone shows up. Only wants your food so that's kinda a money pit but i'm not the one who bought it. Sorry after all that the reply i just notice wasn't directed at me. I just replied from my email. Any way..........
 
Rebecca Norman
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Still, really, composting is so far and away the perfect treatment for all kinds of poop. Use something else in your rocket mass heater, please!
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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I can't help feeling like I am missing something here. A properly functioning RMH isn't producing any charcoal, just a minimal amount of ash.

Just how/where in the RMH structure are you planning on converting poop to char? Seems to me that it's really not a suitable system for producing charcoal.

On the other hand, a top light up draft ("T-LUD") system is quite well suited to producing charcoal. Might be easier to build one of them dedicated to the purpose rather than trying to adapt your RMH for the task.

Or maybe I'm just missing something obvious

 
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