Check out the press release in The Eleutheran about the first bio-gas stove in The Bahamas installed at The Island School! Screen shot 2012-12-14 at 3.38.16 PMThe Island School and Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) are eager to celebrate the implementation of an innovative technology with the potential to revolutionize regional waste management, while enhancing energy independence and agricultural development. Last week, members of the facilities department teamed up with Island School students to install the first bio-gas burning stove in The Bahamas

Bio-gas is the usable energy created during the process of biodigestion, which processes organic waste into usable gas and nutrient rich fertilizer, uniquely addressing a number of local issues. With deep thanks to Derek Francis General Manager and Daron Lloyd, Sales Manager at Master Technicians in Nassau who donated the stove, Founder Chris Maxey proudly declared “Now we will literally be taking human waste and processing it into a safe and inexpensive form of energy that we can use to cook our food. And, we will be doing it all on-site, on our campus. What is more energy-independent than that?”

The organization’s renewable energy portfolio also features wind, solar and biodiesel technologies which were developed out of a dedication to “design spaces that reflect our values and help inspire creative thinking, while reducing the immediate and long-term impacts on the surrounding ecology” (ceibahamas.org). The addition of a biodigestion system was a clear next step.

“Do you ever wonder where wastes go when they are pumped from your septic tank?” asks CEI’s Sustainable Systems Manager Sam Kenworthy, in describing the question that motivated CEI to establish the first biodigester in the region. He hopes that communities across The Bahamas will be inspired to also think about the final destination of their wastes.

At present, there is no municipal scale waste treatment facility on Eleuthera or any of the other islands in the country. Most homes and businesses rely on septic tanks, which require solids to be periodically pumped and removed. Most often this cesspit material ends up in local dumps. Leaching of wastes into the fresh water lens or the sea is a common problem which is dangerous and harmful to both humans and the natural environment. Biodigestion eliminates this problem by containing waste in a sealed chamber and transforming it into a biologically productive output.

Biodigestion not only solves a national problem, it additionally creates other new solutions. While the gas produced by the biodigestion process can used as energy, the solid output is a nutrient-rich fertilizer which is easily applied to agricultural food crops. Because of the low-nutrient levels of local limestone soils, agriculture is difficult without added fertilizers. “Traditional chemical fertilizers pollute the natural environment and are dangerous for human consumption;” said Josh Shultz, CEI Permiculture Manager, adding that “biodigestion generates vast quantities of environmentally friendly fertilizers at negligible cost.”

Biodigestion systems were first developed in the 1950’s but have gained popularity over the last twenty years because of their many benefits. “Biodigestion systems are not only very cheap, they increase food production, while minimizing imports, creating better social, economic and environmental health,” encourages Sam Kenworthy.

The Island School and CEI are proud to be pioneering regional development of sustainable systems. “We hope to lead the way in inspiring our Bahamian friends and neighbors to spread biodigestion technology throughout The Bahamas,” said Chris Maxey.