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Could Mount Everest Get A Biogas Digester?
When you think of biogas plants, the Himalayas probably isn’t the first spot you’d think of installing such a facility.
However, with the rising number of climbers visiting Everest base camp, one engineer has suggested that a biogas digester could solve the problem that’s been dubbed a “fecal time bomb”.
Every May, climbers who are desperate to conquer the world’s highest mountain head for Everest base camp and prepare for their ascent. It takes an average of two months to complete the climb, and this season the porters who work on Mount Everest carried some 14 tons of human waste back down the mountain.
This is then dropped into earthen pits in Gorak Shep, but frozen fecal matter can take years to break down and in the meantime is littering one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Enter Garry Porter, who is a lifelong climber and a retired engineer. He attempted to climb Everest in 2003 and his trip got him to start thinking about how the fecal matter produced by climbers could be put to better use.
His suggestion is to construct a bespoke, but simple, biogas digester that can be kept at high enough temperatures to operate on the slopes of the Himalayas. Mr Porter has created a group, the Mount Everest Biogas Project, and is currently raising donations to make it a reality. He estimates that it will cost half a million dollars to set the digester up on Everest.
While this could be a great solution to this particular issue in Nepal, biogas plants are growing in popularity elsewhere around the world. In the UK, a new advanced anaerobic digestion plant has recently been given the go ahead in Wales.
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