Zero Waste Systems Waste is a concept designed by a society that lacks sustainability. In nature the concept of waste does not exist as ultimately everything is utilized and recycled. Bio-mimicry is the concept of adapting nature’s principles to human civilization. Green New World applies bio-mimicry to provide sustainable waste recycling solutions so that everything that comes from the Earth goes back to the Earth. Green New World services include consultation, partnership, workshops, presentations, design and execution of onsite small scale waste recycling projects. Please contact us if you would like more information or have any questions.
Onsite Biodegradable Waste Processing Green New World’s current efforts are focused on maximizing the residential recycling potential of biodegradable materials including waste water (blackwater and greywater), food wastes and garden wastes. There are several methods to process biodegradable wastes by microorganisms that brake down the waste and convert it into beneficial products such as fertilizer and biogas. A model for a residence designed by Green New World uses a system that processes all biodegradable wastes on site in an anaerobic biodigestion reactor also known as a biodigester. An anaerobic biodigestion reactor contains mesophyllic bacteria that process the biological waste and converts it into biogas. The amount of water introduced into the anaerobic biodigestion reactor is critical to the process and works best with a water recycling system where every drop of water is reused four to seven times within the residence (see Water for details) so that the input of water into the anaerobic biodigestion reactor is minimized to maintain a high percentage of solids. In Green New World’s water recycling system only a high efficiency flush toilet with 1.2 gallons per flush (4.6 liters) or 0.6 gallon (2.3 liters) and one drain from the kitchen with a biowaste disposal grinder feed directly into the anaerobic biodigestion reactor so that the average daily use of water per person is less than 20 gallons (76 liters) per day. This ensures a high ratio of volatile solid to liquid ratio in the anaerobic biodigestion reactor which is beneficial for the efficient production of biogas. Depending on the size of the household and average daily input of biodegradable wastes the output of biogas can be substantially enhanced by coupling the anaerobic biodigestion reactor to an algae biofuel reactor. Nutrients for the algae are provided for from the liquid effluent of the anaerobic biodigestion reactor and the carbon dioxide exhaust from the biogas generator or other sources of combustible residential emissions. Feeding algae with carbon dioxide emissions creates a closed loop system where most carbon that is introduced into this waste processing system is captured and reused which provides an additional benefit to the environment by capturing the carbon dioxide and avoiding the release into the atmosphere. Good results with biofuel algae have been obtained with Chorella a type of green algae which is heterotrophic and has a high protein and fat content and is well suited for anaerobic biodigestion and biogas production. An additional factor used to gage the amount of algae that is required to balance the nutrient content of the anaerobic biodigestion reactor is the amount of nitrogenous and carbonaceous materials. A carbon to nitrogen ratio of 20:1 to 30:1 generates the maximum amount of biogas. The anaerobic digestion reactor contains three outlets for gas, liquid and solid effluent. The gas output consists mostly of biogas (60-70% methane) after the impurities of carbon dioxide, water and hydrogen sulfide are removed by a process known as scrubbing, pure methane gas provides for cooking, residential hot water and to power a peak demand electric generator. The liquid effluent provides consistent and safe irrigation to orchards through divided subterranean leachfields and also provides nutrients for the biofuel algae as described above. The solid effluent known as sludge can be utilized in several ways such as making organic fertilizer, to feed biofuel algae or to make combustible biobricks or biopellets. Integration of an anaerobic digestion reactor into a residential household sewage system maximizes environmental benefits as it integrates with the water recycling system, energy production and carbon dioxide sequestration. Another way to process biodegradable waste is to use an aerobic biodigestion reactor which in contrast to anaerobic digestion requires oxygen hence is an energy intensive process and can provide heat and organic fertilizer however is not as environmentally advantageous in comparison to anaerobic digestion as much of the nutrients are lost to the atmosphere in form of nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.
Waste Mitigation Strategies With the emergence of a new sustainable society numerous inventions have been made that will solve many of the current problems! Bio-degradable plastics and materials are increasingly becoming popular and starting to replace hazardous ones which can be used to produce biofuels. Machines, devices and appliances need to become modular so that parts can be replaced or upgraded without the need to replace the entire unit. Additionally manufactures can refurbish old or damaged parts to minimize waste. Everything needs to be designed in a way that can be efficiently and thoroughly recycled.
Wastewater Treatment It is becoming clear that centralized sewage systems will become artifacts of the past. They are generally expensive, energy intensive, require a lot of chemicals and contaminate rivers, lakes and oceans.
Wastewater or sewage is divided into two categories. All the wastewater without the toilet and food laden kitchen sink is considered greywater. Any waste water containing toilet effluent and kitchen sink effluent is considered blackwater. The simplest method to treat waste water onsite is to install a septic system that utilizes bacteria to breakdown the total sewage. The liquid overflow provides safe irrigation by a leachfield for surrounding trees. However, there are many better ways to handle sewage. First of all, it is advisable to separate greywater from blackwater as greywater typically provides the bulk of residential waste water and can be processed with less effort than blackwater. There are various ways to treat greywater including low profile landscape irrigation or to be reused for specially designed indoor planters tolerant to greywater known as botanical greywater processors. Our preferred choice of treating greywater is to integrate it into a system for residential water recycling to conserve water consumption which utilizes every drop of water four to seven times as described on our water page. This system integrates greywater and blackwater into one system with maximum efficiency. Blackwater by itself can also be treated by septic systems as described above. Another method is to use especially designed outdoor botanical processing units however they are not very efficient and can be problematic in colder climates. Anaerobic biodigestion is Green New World’s preferred choice of treating blackwater which integrates well into the water recycling system and the energy generation system of a residential household. Please see relevant sections for more detail.