Design Probes

Far-future research dialogue by Philips Design

The Bio-digester kitchen island is the central hub in the Microbial Home system. It consists of a methane digester which coverts bathroom waste solids and vegetable trimmings into methane gas that is used to power a series of functions in the home.

The bio-digester hub is designed as a repositionable kitchen island, including: a chopping surface with vegetable waste grinder, a gas cooking range, a glass tank that shows energy reserves and glass elements showing pressure, volume and readiness of compost sludge. Materials used in the design are copper, cast iron, glass and bamboo.
The gas from the methane digester is fed to a cooking range and gas mantle lights. Water pipes are preheated by the digester and channelled to other components in the Microbial Home system. The digester needs a constant supply of waste material and water. The dehydrated sludge residue from the digester can be safely removed and used as compost.

In the home of the future we will have to rethink our own waste and convert it into a usable asset. This is an environmentally progressive product concept that allows humans to use almost all organic waste from homes, including sewage, paper and kitchen scraps, to feed a methane digester to power a range of functions in the home. It challenges out taboos and raises our consciousness of energy consuming appliances.

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Comment by Robert Darcy on November 21, 2011 at 8:21pm

I live on a narrow boat in London and for some time have been looking for something like this system to use on my boat. I have so far found very little until I stumbled across this. It's a shame to hear that it is only at prototype stage as I would love to install something like this. Virtually all the people who live on boats in London and elsewhere choose to do it, at least in part, because they want to reduce their carbon footprint and energy consumption, so it would offer a very receptive group. On a boat all sewage is put into holding tank, that then has to be pumped out into the mainland sewerage system, to me this has always seemed like there could be a more intelligent use for this, so glad to hear that this is being developed.

Also, boaters like me in London that move regularly are currently in the process of setting up an equivalent to a housing co-op, where there will be community managed moorings and gardens,  so compost will also come in handy. The only issue that I can see would be the need for it to be as efficient space-wise as possible, which this design seems not to be concerned with.


I would love to keep up to date with any further steps that are made on this. It seems like a very positive step indeed.

Comment by Hugh Stokes on November 21, 2011 at 9:37pm

Really interesting, altho I don't think it needs to be relocatable.


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