In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to introduce you to our new best friend (on the left).
Anyone know what it is? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?
It’s a Bio-Digestor!!!!
We’re so excited about this we could just… well…. pee!! And with this, we'll finally no longer have to do it behind the bananeiras.
So what is a bio-digestor you ask? Well, it digests biological stuff. At least at the end stages of that stuff.
In carving out our little spot of paradise (petulant, bratty and trying as it can be), we have done our best to keep it as sustainable and low-impact as possible. Not too hard so far, given that we don’t even have electricity.
But a suitable arrangement for our plumbing and septic had us a bit flummoxed for a while. The traditional way on the roça is either the afore mentioned bananeiras, or if you’re lucky enough to have running water and a porcelain vaso, you build a septic leech field. Well, behind our house and a level down is a large swamp. A beautiful one actually, full of lilies and cattails and birds. It is home to all sorts of animals and plays a very important role in the ecosystem, one that we didn’t want to upset with possible contamination from a nearby septic field.
Enter the bio-digestor. This little beast can handle organic waste of up to 600 liters. After it does its digesting job, it releases from one end water that is tested 99% pure. And from the other end, into a small casement box the effluent gathers which once every 4-6 months needs to be cleaned out. It comes as dry as ash, clean and uncontaminated and can be buried or sprinkled about as fertilizer. Cool, hugh!?
(Here's C with his internet instructions trying to work out with Vicente how to install it.)
But wait, there is more…
Do you know what makes this grand process work? You’ll never guess….
Yes indeed! The bio-digestor runs on PET plastic! We were totally blown away when the guy in the store opened up the top to give us a tour and out tumbled chopped up Sprite and Coke bottles. We though they were just in there for packing material, but no! They are actually the filter that enables the anaerobic process to take place. Don’t ask me how, I haven’t quiet figured it out. It’s a design invented by some clever Brazilians (they are very good at coming up with ways to reuse PET plastic) and I think patented as well.
Up until now, bio-digestors have been mainly used for recycling livestock waste. But there are a number of efforts being made, especially in areas where poverty and sanitation are real issues, to bring them into residential/community use. Many bio-digestor designs allow for the methane gas they produce to be reclaimed and used for heating, electricity and cooking gas! How cool is that?
We’re very excited about our newest addition. I was really hoping that we’d have it installed and ready to be inaugurated by Earth Day, but alas, as usual, things are moving slowly. So for the time being, we’re still roughing it in the great outdoors.