Social Impact Design: Sistema Bioblosa

Published on: October 28th, 2013

Using the often-overlooked technology of bio-gas energy sourcing, Alexander Eaton, CEO and co-founder of Sistema Bioblosa, employs simple and informed design strategies to empower impoverished farming communities. A key speaker at the A Better World by Design conference held in Providence, Rhode Island, this past September, Eaton presented the benefits that Sistema Bioblosa provides for small-scale farmers in rural Mexico.

Central to the Sistema Bioblosa model is the biodigester, which enables farmers to convert organic waste into renewable energy and organic fertilizer.
The design of the biodigester itself is an adaption of large-scale technology that is utilized by industrial farmers. In contrast to the older stoves that took months to build, Eaton’s biodigester can be assembled without technical assistance in an hour or so. It is comprised of a fifteen-foot long bag made of rough synthetic plastic, completely enclosing an anaerobic environment, allowing for the bacteria in the waste to flourish and convert to biogas and fertilizer. Connected by tubes, the converted biogas transfers and collects in another bag, which is lead through a pipe into the home for use in the kitchen or bathroom. A second tube connects and funnels the liquid organic fertilizer to an exterior tank. The manure produced by two cows or six pigs per day can issue a cubic meter of biogas, equivalent to 2.2 kWh of electricity. Regarded as a long run cost saver the possibilities inherent in this design enable small family farms to escape the poverty cycle. Eaton and his team of technicians travel to the family farms that are interested and provide individual training for the installation and use of the biodigester. Often the outreach and interest spreads throughout the community of local farms. Moreover, return visits allow the Sistema Bioblosa team to gather feedback, which Eaton identifies as imperative to the continued success of their work.

Promoting renewable energy and environmental development, Sistema Bioblosa works to instill the knowledge of managing resources that is essential to the future of farming in Latin America. By transforming materials and saving energy, the technology and design of the biodigester raises the standard of living for those who use it. Making the benefits of this biodigester accessible to all rural famers in marginalized populations ensures that the social and environmental impact of Sistema Bioblosa is far reaching. The model of Eaton’s Sistema Bioblosa encourages better waste management for small farmers and the rural poor. In doing so, they are helping to foster organic agriculture, improve health conditions and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mitigating the risks of global climate change. By improving waste management and generating sources of renewable energy and organic fertilizer, Sistema Bioblosa serves a defining role in the movement towards global sustainability.

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Program Update

Parsons is not currently admitting new students to this master’s degree program. Parsons is now offering a Graduate Minor in Design Studies that is designed to complement the MA History of Design and Curatorial Studies and other graduate programs across the university in design, liberal arts, and social research.