Israeli technology that will give the Greens sticky knickers


Imagine being able to use gas made from your own food waste to cook your dinner. Homebiogas is an Israeli company that has developed an eco-friendly “digester” that turns organic matter into biogas that can be installed in just a few hours.

Imagine a future where your waste disposal unit can be plumbed directly into one of these so that you won’t even have the hassle of carrying your bucket of scraps to the unit.  In summer we barbecue a lot and have to refill our gas bottle at the service station. We already have a compost heap  so with one of these units our compost heap could provide all the gas required for our summer barbecues  as well as our indoor cooking.

If you live on a lifestyle block  you could use all your animal waste as well as your food waste to create enough gas for both heating and cooking.  Realistically  it won’t be long before we can use our human waste from our toilets to  create clean gas as well.  Imagine a household that uses all its own waste including toilet waste to provide all its heating and cooking.No more need for complex sewage systems and we will have turned a negative ( smelly sewage ) into a positive ( clean, green, free gas. )

Each year, 1.3 billion tonnes of food go to waste around the world, representing a full third of the food intended for human consumption. In Europe and in the United States, consumers are the primary culprits. According to a European Commission study from 2010, individuals and families are responsible for 42 percent of food waste, ahead of agribusiness (39 percent).But with the Homebiogas system, there’s no more throwing out your leftovers. From one kilogram of trash (leftover food or animal faeces), the digester produces 200 litres of gas, which allows you to cook for one hour at high heat, the company says.

“It’s useful for developing and developed countries alike”

Yair Teller

Ten years ago, I went to India for a study on water pollution. I was housed in a village way up on a mountain, in a completely isolated area. But in their home, the family with whom I was staying had…cooking gas. They showed me their makeshift digester: cow manure was placed in a hole in the ground and then pumped into the kitchen as cooking gas. It also produced a liquid that they used as fertilizer.

The inner workings of the machine. Image: Homebiogas website.

“It helps fight deforestation”

It’s a superb solution for developing countries. The gas they cooked with was clean and less harmful than the smoke produced when wood is burned for cooking. Indeed, numerous studies have shown that domestic use of wood fires causes respiratory illness, especially among women and children. These people’s method also allowed them to help fight deforestation.

A video of the assembly of the machine.

So, with some friends, I started a team whose goal was to come up with a system inspired by what I’d seen in India. I wanted to produce a machine that would be easy to install at your home, that wouldn’t be too invasive or ugly. We worked on Homebiogas for several years before putting it on the market on the Internet, starting last year.

“Six tonnes of CO2 emissions are avoided each year”


The system is usable in rural areas and villages, but also in suburban and urban areas, though you do have to have a garden. The advantage is that it allows you to bring clean energy to areas where access to electricity is limited. But it’s also a machine that can be used in developed countries. That said, it works best in countries where it’s hot: higher temperatures accelerate the [digestion] process.”

Installation in Auja, in the West Bank.

We’ve already sold 500 Homebiogas systems on the Internet. The buyers are often private citizens, and they come from 25 different countries, notably Israel, Mexico, Australia and South Africa. We’ve also installed digesters in a Palestinian village in the West Bank. [Editor’s note: The project, launched in 2015 at Al-Awja, allowed for the installation of about 40 biogas generators in Bedouin villages. Organized by the Peres Centre for Peace, it received €500,000 in financing from the European Union.]

Video presentation of the project in the Palestinian villages.

The price is $995, or €880. According to our calculations, the product pays for itself in just three years, thanks to the savings it produces on gas and fertilizer. We estimate that in one year, Homebiogas also allows you to avoid six tonnes of CO2 emissions.

  • Effluent

    The greens don’t need it. They have ample supplies of hot air for cooking and heating, without having to resort to this technology. Having said that, they are so full of ”compostable material” that they would be able to fuel everyone else’s needs, if they wanted to help their less fortunate neighbours.

    On a more serious note, these and similar devices do have the potential to make a big difference to the way cities function, and it’s great to see that they are coming into more common use.

  • Duchess of Pork

    The Greens will soon settle down once they realise the Middle East will bulk purchase the units to dispose of that part of Camel waste which is not used for medicinal purposes. It would be Islamophobic of them not to do so.

  • cows4me

    The gas companies will be thrilled to bits, not. I somewhat larger version would be most useful on the farm, especially for heating water.

    • Brian Dingwall

      There is a system on Landcorp’s Waimakariri farm, visited it a long time ago, not sure if still operating. From memory a 2300 head farm, and with dairy shed waste the eeconomics were very marginal then, as I recall. Economics make more sense wth confinement systems.

      China has some good systems, some poor ones; their guru, Dr Liu Ying now of the Shandong Academy of Agricultural Science, formerly head of the Biogas Research Institute in Chengdu, has visited NZ but failed to gain any traction for his ideas and technology, either with academics, or with practical engineers.

      The technology has revolutionised rural village China, especially cooking over biogas, rather than dried dung or coal….increased health status of farmers, and much cheaper. But the big users (and huge systems) are the large scale confinement farms, dairy, beef, pork, and poultry.

      This is the biogas digester at Mengniu’s 8000 cow farm in Shandong (if it copies from Liu Ying’s presentation

      • cows4me

        I guess it all boils down to the cost of energy in the end. Like the price of petrol, the higher it goes the more alternate technologies are encouraged.

        • Brian Dingwall

          Yup, exactly. By 2010 there were 30.5M household scale biogas digesters installed in (mostly rural) China. Provided much better sanitation, clean burning cheaper energy for cooking and heating, and fertiliser. Just ferro concrete or fibregass tanks always underground, often under the whitehouses (whiteplastic “glasshouses”) in which they grow vegetables etc year round (the socalled white revolution) where the waste heat of fermentation is not lost completely in winter.
          Very generously subsidised too (as are the large scale ones for dairy farmers, sorry). I have 150 ppt slides in English on this subject….

  • Builder

    This has huge potential. Not only heating and fuel for cooking, it may enable self sufficiency on smaller sections without the large drainage fields required for rural septic tank systems. Residential self contained sewage systems were tried in Japan some years ago but they required regular tank emptying.

  • Gazza

    Noooooooo, this cant be right, Israeli / Palestinians working together, BDS groups will mess their pants….the Greens will be conflicted! Yay Israel! Another kick in the pants for the haters…

    • johnandali

      I bet that Al Jazeera will not report about this. I would be surprised if the NZ Herald, Channel 1 or Channel 3 or the BBC carry it.