Producing Sustainable Energy with our Bio Digester
January 21, 2015
At Aldea Development our work is continuously driven by sustainability principles, not only with regard to the community, but also the environment. We believe that this is integral to our work, as well as our role as a responsible global citizen.
Which is why we are excited to tell you about some changes we made to the bio digester at our beneficio!
The beneficio is where we process all of our coffees. The process goes something like this: during harvest season we receive coffee from our clients in 150 lbs sacks. We then sort this coffee by hand, looking out for under-ripe, over-ripe and damaged cherries, among other characteristics. After this, the coffee goes through the custom-built processor, designed and constructed by Aldea Development staff, where it is de-pulped and fermented. Once the fermentation period is complete, the coffee is washed by hand, and finally, set to dry in our solar driers. This whole procedure can take anywhere between 10-14 days, depending on the weather.
This process requires water and in the end produces water that contains bacteria, yeast, various minerals and high acidity.
The new bio digester, which was designed and constructed by Aldea Development President Patrick Hughes and our resident engineer Martir Alvarado, uses this waste water and turns it into biogas, a renewable energy that is then fed back to the beneficio to power it.
The waste water is channeled from the beneficio and collects at the bio digester, where it is treated and then stored underground in a tank, where it produces gas naturally. A pipe leads from the tank back to the beneficio, supplying it with the newly-created biogas.
Traditional beneficios in Honduras currently dump their contaminated water into waterways, or run it downhill, harming local flora and fauna and damaging the water table.
With time, the aim is to have a fully self-sustainable beneficio with zero carbon emissions and zero contaminants released. “We would like the world to be a better place because this exists”, says Hughes.
With water collected onsite, the only external input the beneficio uses is gas to power the generator. Over time and with continued improvements, we hope to have the beneficio fully-powered by biogas from the bio digester.
Our future plans include a community garden that is irrigated using treated water from the beneficio. Using principles of permaculture we aim to build a beneficio that is not only fully-sustainable but also serves the wider community.