Guinea Pig Methane Power!

Half-way around the world, a couple in Peru is harnessing the power of guinea pig poop, to generate methane for their farm. We couldn’t make that up if we tried.

The couple are a pair of retired plant physiology professors who have taken to running a sustainable agriculture program in their very own villa called Casa Blanca. It’s a beautiful set of gardens complete with a lab for research. But the most curious thing is the thousand guinea pigs they raise. They have a special shed for them with small compartments separated by brickwork. The guinea pigs eat specialized plant waste, and in turn, produce an astonishing 3 tonnes of fecal matter per month.

They use around 200kg of the excrement to power their very own bio-digester which in turn produces 3 cubic meters of methane per day which they use for powering their villa. The rest of it is used for fertilizer that they sell to local farms.

Now that is some serious rural ingenuity — and this is what they have to say about it:

“My message to the people of Peru is: don’t blame your poverty. Transform your poverty using affordable technologies and processes to improve your quality of life and happiness,” Ulises says, tucking into ice-cream made from fruit grown using cuy shit and frozen with cuy-shit-power.

*cuy is another word for Guinea Pig.

Our tipster was reminded of this project after reading our recent post about Washington’s new sewage power generator!

44 thoughts on “Guinea Pig Methane Power!

      1. Yuck, 18 month old Guinea pig is like year old rabbit, well past its prime.

        For those who don’t know, rabbit is best around week 8. Wonder how long it takes for Guinea pigs to reach a mature weight…

        1. I agree with rabbits, especially White Giants. Rabbits are another food source we screwed up & turned into pets. We eat chickens only because they aren’t so cute and cuddly even though it cost more feed pound for pound to raise chickens than rabbits.

          1. “… it cost more feed pound for pound …”

            The gap has been narrowing since we started driving on corn. When the ethanol mandate started, I could purchase a 50lb bag of rabbit pellet for $7.50(US). Now, that same bag is $15.00.

            Regarding breeds, I prefer a NZ/California/Louisiana mix. Good meat to bone ratio, with decent heat tolerance.

          2. I want to have a pet chicken but the city says no.
            Tastes like chicken but much uglier, Iguana!
            They should do to rabbits the likes of naked necks and featherless chickens, would that make you happy. Ear-less mutant bunnys!

          3. Isn’t rabbit meat extremely low fat? Dangerously even? I suppose it would be a great diet food, except for the awww factor.

            BTW, I do in fact own a pet rabbit. She’s always looking at me funny.

        2. from what i’ve read, giunea pigs are fully grown at around 6 to 8 months, sexually active within a month or two of being born, but they don’t really put on much real meat for another year of age or so. 18 months is probably the sweet spot. i’d trust them also, as they’re the experts on it. cuy is supposed to be sweeter than rabbit anyhow.

    1. Certainly are I had some on my trip over there this year.. Yum yum …They do taste a bit gamey though and more like the herbs they are stuffed with than anything else.

    1. “At first I thought 3 cubic meters wasn’t very much …”

      In most of the “developed” world, it isn’t. I wonder what kind of integrations they used to capture/recycle lost energy along the path. Are they burning the methane, or catalyzing it? If they are burning it, are they also using it to heat water, or maybe using a more dense heat storage medium?

      1. in the original article they mention using a generator off of the methane, and using old truck tires to store the methane instead of costly pumps and tanks, i’m not sure about the water exactly, they do heat it, but that could be a seperate heater, instead of utilizing the exhaust from the generator.

    2. The biogas from the fermenter isn’t pure methane. It’s actually about 30% CO2 and 10% nitrogen, so the 3 cubic meters value at about 10 kWh without pumping losses.

      In order to run a generator, you have to remove the CO2 because otherwise you’d have to run the engine way too rich to get any power out of it. The CO2 in the mix is like throwing sand in a fire pit – doesn’t help at all.

    1. We are all knee deep in ‘cuy shit’, you just don’t see it because you push the little silver handle and it goes away along with everyone else’s ‘cuy shit’. Then the local waste treatment plant does basically what these folks are doing only we let the methane escape into the air. We waste a lot in this country (USA) for the sake of lifestyle and convenience.

      When my father in-law was alive he had the right idea. His house was hooked to a septic tank and every year he planted tomato plants directly above his field lines. He grew some of the greatest tomato’s in the area!

          1. Yeah, but we see where free-range parenting has gotten us.

            But seriously, you are right. Why should we allow all that useful, and environmentally damaging gas to escape? Even if a treatment plant couldn’t generate enough to run a turbine constantly, it could still be used to add capacity during peak hours.

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