25. Waste to willows
Blog: The poop on growing willows as an energy crop
Sewage, biosolids, wastewater, effluent, human waste and night soil – these are all euphemisms for poo, the waste material we produce with near certain regularity.
But instead of looking at it as a burden, as something to be disposed of, why not use it to grow a crop that can heat our buildings, produce electricity or be used for compost? Why not close the loop?
Camrose County, a small county in rural Alberta is doing just that.
If you live in even a medium sized city chances are there’s a modern facility that handles and treats all of your waste. It probably cost several million dollars and employs quite a few people. Small towns, villages and hamlets don’t have that luxury. About 90 per cent of rural municipalities use lagoon systems to treat their wastewater. These are open ponds that are aerated on a regular basis and microbes and tiny invertebrates end up eating the poop and cleaning the water.
As you can imagine these lagoons aren’t the most popular neighbours.
Richard Krygier has spent the last six years working on ways to treat this waste – not with some fancy new whiz-bang process, but with not much more than an irrigation system and a dense stand of willow trees. It’s a low cost, appropriate technology for the problem. More…
Podcast: How to heat your office with human waste
This Camrose County willow biomass project is a real example of a win-win-win project. They took a potential problem - lagoons used to treat human waste - and turned it into a resource - willow biomass that is used to heat their main county office. It turns out willows are ideal for this use, they grow up to two metres a year, like moist soil, grow back when cut down and can be started with just a cutting. Learn about this simple, apporpriate technology on this week's podcast.
These resources relate to this episode. They may be helpful in many ways, but we list them only for your information. This is not an endorsement of any of these programs, services or organizations and we make no guarantees about the products or services these companies or organizations may offer.
Camrose County Integrated Wood Biomass Boiler and Willow Plantation System
An authoritative explanation of the first municipally owned public building using a biomass wood heat energy system and the short rotation willow coppicing system. GO >
Powerpoint presentation by Camrose County on their biomass boiler and willow plantation systems Powerpoint