Floating Bio-digesters for Waste Management and Energy Recovery (Floating Bio-digester Project)


Using the knowledge and strong community ties developed throughout the participatory design process for the Floating Latrine Design Project, Live and Learn has also been developing floating bio-digesters.  An increase in floating pig farms in the floating communities created another waste source for these communities, but also created a potential resource as this waste could be used as a feed source into a bio-digester. The development of appropriate floating bio-digesters promises improved sanitation, energy, agricultural, and environmental outcomes.

Bio-digesters convert human and animal waste into gas for energy, and treat waste so it can be safely disposed of or used as fertiliser.  The conversion reduces the pathogens considerably, improving sanitation and water quality in the community, while producing a valuable agricultural resource. Similarly to the Ecosan toilet, once the waste is properly treated it can also be used as a fertiliser or even as fish feed, so it is also being integrated with and contributing to the outcomes of the Innovative Food Production Project (Floating Gardens).

The gas produced from the biodigesters would be able to be used by the community for cooking, with a biodigester from one household with a couple of pigs able to produce enough gas for a family to cook with. Access to gas from waste will reduce time, effort, and money used for families energy needs, while also reducing deforestation pressures.

However previous biodigester designs are not suitable for some more challenging environments such as floating and flood affected areas. Live and Learn in partnership with Engineers without Borders Australia are developing new designs to be appropriate for these communities and a number of prototypes are currently being investigated. The prototypes need to be smaller than traditional designs, and for the floating communities also need to be able to float. The biodigester development has also been undertaken as part of our Demonstration of Appropriate Energy for Floating Communities Project.