Engine Hacks – A DIY Methane Generator

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All “methane generator” jokes aside, This one actually serves a useful purpose. Although not an engine hack per se, methane can be used to run an engine. As the traditional method of powering an internal combustion engine, gasoline, gets more and more expensive, alternatives will have to be found. If you happen to live on a farm, or have access to a source of organic waste, this method could serve as a viable one.

One would need quite a bit of waste, as each kilogram yields around 400 liters of methane gas. This amount is enough to run a gas light for around 4 hours. Any sort of useful engine would require quite a bit more than this (chicken farm possibly?).

A process for converting waste to fuel is illustrated in the video after the break. Extreme caution should be used if attempting to do something like this. There is a danger of not only flammable gas leaking and catching on fire or exploding, but the organic material can be quite toxic as well.


  1. PJ Allen says:

    “Extreme caution should be used if attempting to do something like this.”
    Jeremy, I’m sure you meant – Quite a bit of caution should be used if attempting to do something like this.

  2. nanomonkey says:

    I believe the yield is dependent upon the quality of material that you put into the digester. Pre-digested materials found in manure and guano are going to produce less methane than undigested waste streams such as rotten fruit and vegetables which contain more unused carbohydrates. None the less, the manure already contains all of the organisms needed to complete the breakdown and methanogenesis.

  3. Jay says:

    On the linked update video, was anyone else chanting “drop the camera, drop the camera” when he took off the cap and viewed down into the digest-er? lol

  4. Everett says:

    On the danger end of things just remember the window of air fuel ratios that are combustible with methane is pretty small. It is a far cry from propane or gasoline.

  5. Ren says:

    a way to get some use out my dog’s waste?

    • Hirudinea says:

      Forget the dog Ren, the average toilet flush uses gallons of water, so if you use your own “leavings” not will you be saving water but making energy, hell, eat Indian & Mexican food and you can drive a modded SUV to work every day!

  6. loans says:

    My family’s got five horses. Hmm..

  7. Jeff says:

    I love all of the seat of the pants engineering and the testing in place stuff. This is great I I will certainly be checking the updates.

  8. Matt says:

    My arse is one giant methane generator at the moment. Stupid beans.

  9. rageahol says:

    This is hardly a “green” hack. methane is a much more potent greenhouse cas than CO2, so all the methane that you inadvertently let escape is probably outweighing any potential CO2 savings.

    • Truth says:

      But that Methane was going into the atmosphere anyhow. By capturing it and using it, less will go into the atmosphere. And it is a decentralized source of energy, which is distributing the nutrient rich by-products over a larger area. It also reduces transport emissions.

      “As part of an integrated waste management system, anaerobic digestion reduces the emission of landfill gas into the atmosphere.”

      “Anaerobic digestion facilities have, however, been recognized by the United Nations Development Programme as one of the most useful decentralized sources of energy supply, as they are less capital intensive than large power plants.”


  10. KillerBug says:

    The great part about methane is that the smell is enough to keep most people out of the blast radius. It isn’t dangerous if there is no one around to get hurt.

    • N0LKK says:

      However methane is an orderless gas. In the event there are odors associated with your methane generating plant probably means you are loosing a fair portion of the methane produced as well. When I was working in the oilfield I often called the gas company to request they drop off some of the odorant they use to put in our gas pipelines to help find leaks. The gas company didn’t put in the gas that was delivered to oilfields.

  11. Joshua says:

    I’ve fooled around with a generator I built with a friend. Filling balloons with it then shooting ags gas from the balloon and igniting it. Or shooting 7 foot fireballs from the gas valve, or how it stunk so badly when unburned gas is released :)

  12. Robert Johnston says:

    Good thing about methane is that it is lighter than air so it is not a dangerous running along the floor until it finds an ignition source…it just rise up and dissipates in the atmosphere…

  13. ohm says:

    It seems it comes from “Better Farming Series 31. Biogas: What it is; How it is Made; How to Use it (FAO Better Farming Series, 1984)”.

    Another biogas generator http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-KYDijPpo8

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