By Emily Bowie
MB Logan ’15 and Tim O’Reilly ’15 have been hard at work the last few weeks getting the logistics of the Greywater Project set with various Professors, students, and others involved with the biogas system. Tim has been involved with the Project since the Spring semester. When asked his thoughts on the importance of the project as it relates to sustainability at Dickinson, Tim commented, “This project is an important step in the right direction for the college. Not only are we generating renewable energy— we are doing so in a manner that strives to be self-sustaining and less wasteful.”
This past spring, working alongside Professor Wingert (Biology), Tim, Eller Mallchok ’15, and Rich Lauvai ’13 went into the field to collect plants that were best suited for filtering the effluent waste from the biogas digester. The Greywater team has been working with community member Bob Hamburg to set up the system. “Bio Gas Bob” has had a long lasting relationship with the farm and most recently aided Evan Kendall ’12 in his senior research which involved setting up the biogas digester. The digester produces methane gas from discarded food and animal waste which, at the moment, can fuel a small gas stove and lamp. So far the farm interns have been using this energy to cook (pancakes and tea!) but future plans include using the gas to heat greenhouses.
A byproduct of producing methane is a mixture of chemicals and water known as effluent. The Greywater project was created in an attempt to filter the chemicals out of the effluent so that it can be reused for landscaping purposes. The project is still in its pilot stage. Tim, Eller, and Madison Beehler ‘15 have begun testing with the valuable help of Professor Howard (Environmental Science). Further tests will take place over the next few months as the system becomes fully operational. Effluent testing will help determine the effectiveness of the design and help aid in further improvements of the system.
Stay tuned for more information as this fascinating project moves forward!