“Natural” gas, as it is called in the United States, is anything but natural. ENGIE’s HomeBiogas has built up a solution that lets people generate methane wherever they are using just food scraps. CleanTechnica met up the the HomeBiogas team at the Consumer Electronics Show this year to get a better understanding of their invention and the implications it may have for developed and developing nations around the world.
At its core, the HomeBiogas solution takes organic waste and, as it breaks down via anaerobic digestion, captures the resulting methane gas. The gas is then filtered and piped directly into a gas burner where it can be used for cooking. Said another way, HomeBiogas takes waste and turns it into a valuable energy resource.
Piped-in residential gas comes almost exclusively from fossil fuel sources and as a result, directly contributes to climate change. Capturing the methane resulting from the natural biodigestion of organic material allows individuals to make better use of a process that will happen in nature either way.
Even better than that, harnessing those methane emissions can provide a much needed concentrated energy source for off-grid communities that don’t have access to gas infrastructure.
One of the common complaints for city dwellers looking to reduce their carbon footprint is the uninspired feeling of cooking over an electric cooktop. I get it. We are rebuilding our home in Ventura, California this year without even running a gas line to it. That’s risky, but I’m all about carving out the ideal path, then sharing the learnings, barriers, obstacles, and success that result.
HomeBiogas represents one potential solution to that challenge. Instead of tossing our yard waste and food scraps into a compost pile, we can toss them into the HomeBiogas unit and use the resulting renewable, surface carbon-based methane to cook with. Whether that will work for us or not is yet to be seen, but the model sounds very straight-forward.
ENGIE invested in HomeBiogas in the middle of last year and is now working with the team to scale the solution up. HomeBiogas sells its products directly to consumers, so ENGIE’s global reach and significant capital represent huge opportunities to get the solution into the hands of more consumers.
The HomeBiogas units can be purchased as a kit that includes the biodigester and gas storage unit along with a cooktop for US$650. The kit includes what the average person will need to get started using their scraps to generate value, ditching gas bills along the way. A handful of other accessories can be picked up as well, including a bio-toilet that can be piped into the HomeBiogas unit as an additional source of organic feedstock.