Methane Production: The Rural Gasification Project’s Biogas Workshop

In 1979, a MOTHER EARTH NEWS staffer attended a workshop on methane production sponsored by New Life Farm’s Rural Gasification Project.

 If you’ve been reading MOTHER EARTH NEWS for any time at all, you’re probably familiar with the pioneering research on methane generation documented in this publication’s pages back in the early 1970’s. For example, you might recall the successful biogas generator built by Richard Shuttleworth… which produced combustible fuel for cooking, heating, and even firing an internal combustion engine from nothing more than organic waste materials. Since then, though the magazine has covered a myriad of


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other alternative energy projects, our research people have been keeping up to date on developments in methane production.

As a matter of fact, one of our staffers recently attended a week-long workshop on gobar (the term is derived from the Hindi word for dung) gas manufacture … arranged by the Rural Gasification Project, a subsidiary of the New Life Farm of Drury, Missouri. The program proved to be valuable enough to convince us that you ought to know about it.

The workshop began with a technical update on methanogenic biochemistry (the basics of keeping gas-producing bacterial cultures active) … then continued with visits to five methane digesters, instruction on the latest in digester design, and some hands-on experience in mixing up a slurry to produce methane gas. Not only was the knowledge transmitted firsthand, but the down-to-earth approach taken by the instructors seemed to suit everyone from farmers to college professors.

Of course, beyond the learning that went on during actual instruction, there was the equally useful exchange of information among the two dozen participants … who ranged from dairy operators to government alternative energy experts, and included such notables as Ram Bux Singh (perhaps the father of methane development in the U.S.). There was near universal agreement in the enthusiastic group that — with the current energy bind in this country — the time for biogas is finally here.