June 1, 2014
Just after the Spring semester wrapped up, Mercy College students from the Envisaj Mercy Environmental Sustainability and Justice League joined Professor Thomas Culhane and Permaculture/Tower Garden experts Ed and Kathy Puffer and built America’s first basement biodigester using the new Solar CITIES indoor IBC design that Culhane first pioneered in Room 304 of Mercy College in the fall of 2013. Culhane also tested this design at Kibbutz Lotan. The Envisaj team went on “the mother of all biogas tours” during winter break of January 2014 to Israel and Palestine. Having established the safety and efficacy of this new design at the college and in the field, it was time to deploy in a typical residential home to show that home-scale DIY biogas really is feasible in a cold climate.
The Puffers were adventurous and dedicated enough to offer their home as the site of the first quotodienne IBC biogas deployment. The system is working well despite some initial issues with clogging in one of the feeding pipes. The Puffer’s were also the first people to deploy the home-built vacuum tube solar hot water system that Cuhane designed and built with students from Envisaj at Mercy College. This system will help keep the digesters warm through the winter, with some assistance from the basement boiler.