HomeBioGas Bathroom Upgrade Suggestion

HomeBioGas, for those who haven’t heard of it, is a way of turning biodegradable waste into clean energy in the form of natural gas. Typically food scraps are fed into a digester - a large tank predominantly filled with water where anaerobic bacteria feed on the scraps and produce methane which can be used to cook on or for heating.

Below are a series of (badly paint edited) images of what the Hackspace bathroom could become. I’d like to float of the idea of integrating a HomeBioGas unit along the back wall, with some level of fake facade to disguise it’s presence, whilst designing in hinged access points to key parts of the system. HomeBioGas also sell a toilet which can flush directly into the digester and a dual hob stove for cooking on.

No hard feelings if anyone wants to shoot this down - it’s way out there as a suggestion! And there’s every chance that we might not be allowed to implement it, even if it had all the support in the world - this would all need looking into. But, having a gas supply in the space could open some doors and it would allow for somewhere better for food waste to go, than landfill. Feel free to check out the website and let me know your thoughts. I think their mid-sized unit “HBG4” would fit the kind of space we have, and with the toilet & stove comes in at around $1,700.

Before - Lockers would need to be removed.

Stage 1 - Clear the area (maybe paint the back wall) and install the BioGas system.

Stage 2 - Build wall hanging cupboards for storage.

Stage 3 - Build facade and top. Access will be required to key areas, so I envisage part of the countertop pivoting up like they do in some cafes.

I think it’s quite unique and very useful idea. Is open fire allowed in the space? I mean we can’t have torches, melting furnaces and chainsaws so far I know. That’s something that The Board should check

I was thinking a proper and certified gas heater, if we were to use it for heating. And if we can do welding in the space, then I’d be surprised if we couldn’t heat some soup on a hob.

I like the idea, it is novel, but for a bit of clarity, “welding” is a very loose term, the lease is quite specific, whilst we can use MIG, TIG, or MMA “welding”, we can’t use open flame, or hearth/forge welding, use of blowlamps hasn’t been clarified, but we may be able to heat with them.

Just as a safety/fyi note, I’m almost certain you’ve considered these, but anything heated by methane produced would also need appropriate exhaust ducting in place, and the required air bricks, or inward admitting air vents, constructed to meet the requirements of the boiler system as commissioned, to prevent incomplete combustion, or evolution of carbon monoxide.
Likewise, appropriate failsafe’s, or protective measures, fire suppressive, would have to be in place too.

Methane has a horrible habit of igniting off any source of ignition, when a reasonable air and methane mixture has accumulated, you can’t smell it either, ethane thiol is added to domestic piped methane which the human nose can detect down to slightly under 0.5ppb, that’s parts per billion, methane itself is odourless. Ethane thiol also has to be the most horrific smelling substance in existence, it did win an award at some point, when you start to reach ppm, or parts per million, concentrations, you feel as if you’re going to be physically sick.

Believe it or not, a door hinge opening/closing can ignite a methane/air mixture due to the heat generated in the friction within the joint from the metal parts rubbing together.

Boiler system?

This was the style of heater I had in mind (hopefully more glamorous models are available) which is designed to be used indoors in people’s living rooms:

And thats if we get a heater at all. The commercially available stove from Homebiogas will have the health and safety side of things covered, with the proper pipework and fittings and the necessary detection systems. Your post comes across to me, as scare mongering, I’m sorry to say. Of the billions of people that have gas (methane) plummed into their homes, how many blow up because of a door hinge each year?

Even when we had that really hot spell a few weeks back, the space was still cold. And with the cost of electricity sky rocketing, the cost of trying to heat the space with electric heaters is going to be prohibitively expensive.

So the idea of a constant supply of nearly free gas is very appealing. The initial outlay is high and it would take some work to get the system set up. Things like the pH would need ongoing monitoring and so on. But what’s on the table is an interesting project.

My point was based on the construction of the gas generator, that would need to be certified at the very least, I believe Gas Safe were the old regs?

It would also have to be installed/commissioned by a qualified and registered installer, finding one with our point of view could be problematic, a lot are just looking for the fastest install with the highest profit margin, and the least work.

Scaremongering? Not my intention, having something within the space with the potential to blow up, catastrophically, is leaning me to a solution that’s certifiable as an absolute minimum, and installed by a qualified and registered installer.

Insurance is a minefield, being in a position of it being null and void is not in anyone’s benefit, and there being any significant risk could see us kicked out before our tenancy is due to terminate.

I appreciate the point, it’s a great idea, but there are aspects that must be considered.
Gas explosions do occur in domestic premises, although few, namely from people switching lights on when they can smell gas, or having boilers serviced by individuals without the necessary qualifications.
I have seen a central section of a terrace row leveled because of a boiler explosion that was to an extent contained, unfortunately occupants died, that was about 15 or so years ago, it does happen.

I’ll add, as tenants, we don’t own the premise, we would have to obtain Northern’s consent before we could investigate installation of such a system as well, let alone actually construct one, and unfortunately, I can pretty much guarantee they would decline to consent, irrespective of any benefits that may be provided, on account of risk.

It is a great idea in principle, and has great potential, but ensuring the necessary demands, monitoring, etc, are met, would be difficult for us to provide any solid assurances with any level of certainty either.