#12 – Michael Reynolds – An Offgrid Legend Uncovering Light


A life spent building solutions

Michael Reynolds is the founder of Earthship Biotecture. He is an American architect based in New Mexico, known for the design and construction of Earthships which serve the following 6 principals:
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#11 – Lara Alshawawreh – Human Architecture in Refugee Camps


Too many short term solutions for long term problems?

Our conversation outlines some of challenges for people living in two Jordanian camps (Zaatari and Azraq). We explore a few of the options and restrictions in using offgrid technologies as potential solutions – political will notwithstanding.

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Don’t Flush Your Freedom

Blog News Project

It’s a real pleasure to share this great film written, directed and edited by Federica Miglio & Alessandro Turci: Don’t Flush Your Freedom (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAFQsMKExCI&fbclid=IwAR3DePd43-Q1pvgkdB1p-Mvh6gD53T7IDeajNRiE-dFRV84EGncC50gf0R4&app=desktop) – It’s been out for sometime on paid channels but is now available for free!

As most of you know, architect Michael Reynolds has spent the past 46 years creating eco-friendly homes which evolved to became ‘Earthships’. These radically sustainable building incorporate 6 principals:

  1. They self-heat and self-cool
  2. They collect rain water
  3. They generate their own power
  4. They  treat their own sewage
  5. They grow some of their own food
  6. They are made from reappropriated materials.
Earthships provide a way for people in both developed and developing countries to live better lives without polluting. They use simple technology and a team of 40 people can make a 4 room house in 2 weeks.

The film follows Earthship builds in Malawi, The Philippines and Taos. It explores what it is to build offgrid whether communities in The US or humanitarian builds in the majority world.


#10 Elizabeth Williams – Theory U, Communication and Collaboration


Theory U – an offgrid and connected theory?

Elizabeth Williams works with multidisciplinary, multi-interest groups of people to help them find common ground, energy and direction.

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Step by step instructions for how to build a biodigester

Step by step instructions for how to build a biodigester


Easy instructions to build your own biodigester

The purpose of this post is to provide instructions for how you can build your own biodigester just as we did.  Biodigesters sound like they should be complex and difficult to build. They’re not. Two large buckets or water tanks, some plumbing tubes and a couple of taps and you’re well on your way. That said, they can be explosive so it’s important to be aware of the risks.

The principle is simple: collect the methane that is given off by naturally organic matter as it decomposes.

At the beginning of September our group of six got together and built a small prototype following instructions sent by Martin Funk from Tamera. We made sure to only use materials you can by at your nearest DIY shop and tools that you probably already have in the shed.

Below is a list of what we used:


  • 2 x Plastic buckets or water storage tanks – one needs to fit tightly inside the other

  • 1 x Plastic tubing to carry the methane

  • 3 x brass screw fitting to tube
  • 1 x T fitting
  • 1 x Gas tap with tube fitting
  • 1 x Brass bolt for fixing the tap


  • 4 x 1m PVC Piping
  • 5 x Caps for the piping

  • Bulkheads for the PVC piping: 2 males (F1); 1 female (F2); 1 90 corner (F3); 1 cap piece (F4)
  • 1 x PVC corner (F5)
  • 1 x Tap (F6)

  • 1 x Strap and buckle or winch

  • 1 x teflon tape for waterprooffing the bulkheads

  • PVC glue to seal all fittings


  • Saw

  • Drill for making holes (large and small)

  • Scissors for cutting thick plastic
  • Hammer

  • Screw driver and screws
  • bolts and hexagonal spanner

  • The digester needs to be fed with kitchen and garden waste that has been blended and mixed with enough water to pour it into the inlet pipe.

Step by step instructions to build a biodigester

Step 1

  • Start by making an tight hole to attach the first bulkhead to the top of the outer or base bucket. To do this measure your bulkhead (How 1 a) and make a hole (How b, & c) that is slightly smaller this way no water (or worse!) can leak through.


  • Saw the part of the bulkhead (How 1 e) that will be on the inside of the bucket so that it doesn’t get in the way of the rising and falling inner or top bucket (How 1 j).


  • Use and “O” ring and sealing tape to make the fitting water tight (How 1 f, g, h & i).


  • Attach the outer tap (How 1 j & k). Then attach the 90 corner (How 1 l). This will be used to collect the fertiliser


Step 2

  • Attach another bulkhead to the bottom of the lower bucket (How 2 a, b & c). This will be used to attach the feeding pipe.


Step 3

  • Prepare the top bucket by removing the rim and handles so that it can slide as snuggly as possible within the lower bucket (How 3 a, b, c, d & e).


Step 4

  • Cut one of the plastic lids to size (How 4 a).

  • Make holes ready for 5 bolts (How 4 b, c, d, e).


  • Place screws in the holes: one at the centre and the others top bottom, left and right (How 4 f.

  • Make holes in the caps ready for the nuts and bolts (How 4 g).

  • Prepare fixings for the “microbe motel” towers by bolting the pipe caps to a plastic lid (How 4 h, i & j).


  • Drill holes in the pipes (How 4 m) and cut them to a length that doesn’t interfere with the top bucket as it slides up and down (How 4 k & l).


  • Fix the pipes to the base (How 4 n).

  • Please the lid with the pipes into the lower bucket and add stones (How 4 o). The pebbles aren’t pictures but they should be about 5cm deep to provide service areas for the bacteria at the bottom of the bucket.

Step 5

  • Attach the feeding pipe to the lower bucket (How 5 a, b & c). We used a metal strip to make sure that the feeding pipe wouldn’t wiggle lose over time.


Step 6

  • Attach the top to the bottom of the top bucket (How 6 a, b, c & d)


  • Attach the plastic tube to the tap (How 6 e)

Step 7

  • Prepare the T fitting (How 7 a, b & c)


  • Attach it to the inlet pipe (How 7 d)

  • Connect the tap to the T (How 7 e) making sure that the tube running between the tap and the T is long enough to allow for the top bucket to rise as it fills with methane.

  • Attach a water container that is about 30cm high to the bottom of the T (How 7 f). This will act as a condensation collector to ensure that water does not collect at a low point in the tube and block the gas from travelling from the biodigester to the outlet stove. A short tube should come down from the stem of the T. No gas can escape here because the container’s water pressure blocks it.

Step 8

  • Test all the fittings and connections by filling the bottom tank with water through the inlet pipe. The top bucket should slide up. It may be necessary to add some guides or rails depending on how tight the fit between the buckets is. In any case make sure that the top bucket is free to rise and fall as gas is produced and emptied.

Step 9

  • You are now ready to add your “starter mix”. This is a slurry of fresh manure and water (How 9) with a ratio of 1:1.

  • The volume of this mixture should be around 200 litres for a 3000 litre digester or roughly 30-40 kg of animal
  • manures per cubic meter of digester tank space. Our 120 litre buckets needed 8 litres of slurry (4kg of manure mixed with 4 litres of water).
  • Leave this in a warm place so the bacteria can reproduce. They should be ready after about 3 weeks. At this point you are ready to start adding your ground organic slurry to the inlet pipe to feed the bacteria so they can start producing methane.
  • The maximum ratio is about 25 litres of feedstock slurry for every 1000 litres of digester space. In our 120 litre tank this means around 3 kg of feedstock slurry. It’s best to start feeding slowly before the digester is at full production. For instance 1kg per day the first week, 2 kg the second week and finally 3kg after that.

#9 Matt Paneitz – Generational Impact

Podcasts Uncategorized

One generation ready – many more to come!

Matt is executive director of Long Way Home an organisation that uses sustainable design and materials to construct self-sufficient schools that promote education, employment and environmental stewardship.

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Biodigester Workshop

Biodigester Workshop


Move another step closer to living offgrid and free! Build your own biodigester and turn your organic waste into methane.

Free methane

Build your own BIOGAS IBC System for your household. Cook, heat water for showering and dish-washing! Simple to handle and a great investment (€100 – €200 materials) for a lifetime supply.

Produce soil and exquisite fertiliser

Not only do you get rid of your organic waste, you also produce phenomenal soil and an incredibly powerful natural fertiliser to help your vegetables grow!


  • Theoretical introduction about how biogas is produced
  • Hands on building of a prototype
  • Presentation of the 6 Earthship principals and the chance to meet other offgriders
  • Planning of another meet to demonstrate the prototype in action and build another larger scale biodigester


Via Marion, 3, Monastier di Treviso, 31050 (TV)


10.00 – 20.00 1st September, 2018


€50 pp – bring a tent if you want to stay the night for no extra charge.


Email: patrick.lunt@offgriditalia.org

Telephone: +39 392 458 4332