A Reflection on my internship experience in March 2018
My internship was with Justin Welch with Finca Filosofía, along with two other CIEE students as fellow interns.
When I first saw the choice for this internship, it was described to me as the following.
Engineering students before me had started work with a biodigester and I should I decide to take this internship, I would be helping by continuing such work.
This work would be for the purpose of future benefit for all of Monteverde and maybe the entire municipality should this work. There were several things happening (and still happening at Finca Filosofía at the time).
There were plans to use restaurant scraps to make compost, and collection of food oil from restaurants to give to another location to make bio-diesel. The plan for the biodigester was to see if animal waste put into the biodigester could help generate Methane gas. (Yes Methane gas, however instead of drilling, Methane gas produced from other wise well, wasted animal waste. With the potential to be used as fuel to help burn and turn the food oil into biodiesel. [Maybe in the future directly at the farm site itself])
Why I wanted to do this internship: I really wanted to work in this internship because I have a very strong interest in renewable energy. I am always intrigued by the idea of a future of a completely renewable grid. Also I believe biofuels could fit very well into part of this equation.
Working on my part the project itself, accomplishments and what I have learned from this experience:
My part of the project focused on the set up and function of the biodigester. We decided not to use animals waste from pigs (to feed the biodigester system) due to the labor necessary for maintenance and care of the pigs. We received a used biodigester from a pig farm that did not have much success with the system due to a few technical errors in set up.
Before starting the physical biodigester set up, I wrote a proposal based on Justin’s explanation and diagram of the plan, along with a digital (presentation) of the diagram.
I dug holes and moved the biodigester several times before finally deciding on a perfect spot for the set up. As mentioned there were some technical errors with the use biodigester. Thus we first emptied it, then modified the tubing of set the biodigester for functionality.
Also we planned to use the wastewater effluent from the biodigester, and put it in a constructed wetland to help filter the water, as possible irrigation water. We ordered a plastic IBC cube, cut the top, filled it with sand, rocks and a hole for a future exit for the water. (Planting of wetland plants will also have to be a future project).
To test the system (biodigester plus constructed wetland) we got as far as to almost filled it with water but did not yet finish the test before the end of the final internship day.
Currently thanks to all of our efforts and efforts before us, there is now the availability of compost as product, a set up for worms (to use with composting), a set up biodigester, the beginnings of a constructed wetland, and the basis for helping to calculate any possible emissions impact.
Arielle presents her work to the audience at the CIEE Internship Symposium.
Arielle prepares for a test run.
The pig farm gave us two biodigesters but we only used one.
A constructed wetland.