The Biogenous Project

SUMMARY: To give individuals an option for sustainable closed-loop living, coupling existing technologies like anaerobic digestion and algae photobioreactors into a living-systems retrofit. This living-system uses microorganisms to unlock potential energy in organic waste, locally producing natural gas and fertilizers.

PROBLEM SPACE: Our global society is wasteful. Status quo systems for energy distribution are archaic open-loop systems producing negative externalities with profound socioeconomic and climatic effects. Moreover, there are observed increases in strength and frequency of extreme weather events due to climate change. All of this coupled with increasing scarcity of non-renewable energy and inefficient management of waste is the challenging context for The Biogenous Project.

These circumstances call for innovative thinking and adaptive strategies which are sensitive to local/global needs. Our reliance on old paradigms for energy acquisition and the management of our waste, leave us vulnerable to changes, e.g. natural disasters. To preserve our fragile humanity we must increase our resilience to change, i.e. our ability to adapt.

The Biogenous Project is a response to our times. As we see it, the context in which we operate demands the implementation of distributed energy systems that: reclaim the potential energy of our waste (closing loops), operate at local levels, are economical, are intuitive enough to be used by everyone.

SOLUTION: Biogenous describes a system that produces or is produced by living things. The Biogenous Project exists to transform buildings from units of resource consumption to units of resource production. We are based in Pittsburgh, PA and are developing biogenous systems for buildings. These systems provide a portfolio of solutions such as organic waste management, natural gas production, increase in thermal capacity, and production of rich fertilizer.

It works by coupling anaerobic digestion with algae photobioreactors. Organic waste from buildings is fed to an anaerobic digester. Methanogenic bacteria then digest the organic material, producing a mixture of carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and methane. This biogas is bubbled through photobioreactors that contain a resilient mix of microalgae; the algae sequester carbon dioxide and metabolize hydrogen sulfide increasing the methane fraction of the biogas. The result can then be compressed and/or stored onsite for future use. The entire system is regulated by microcontrollers that monitor biogas composition, temperature, ph, etc. In addition to biogas, the system outputs rich liquid fertilizer in the form of effluent and compost. Where conventional systems dump nutrient rich waste into the sea disrupting ecosystems, a biogenous building produces valuable products by enriching that waste onsite.

CONTACT PERSON: [email protected]