A man trying to solve the problem of waste on Everest

Original author: Sarah Emerson
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Volunteers from the number of engineers and architects want to solve the most unsolvable problem of Everest: remove the human waste dump

Climbing Everest is becoming easier. The best equipment, infrastructure, the help of tireless guides filled the mountain with courageous tourists. In 2016, there were more than 36,000 people , which is 34% more than arrived in 2015.

Increased interest in Mount Everest is profitable for Nepal. Each of the climbers spends from $ 30,000 to $ 100,000 for this enterprise, depending on the choice of licenses and accompanying. But more people means more waste, including human waste. Yes, yes - Kakahi. Many kakakh.

Every year, 12,000 kg of human excrement accumulates in the base camp of Mount Everest . There, they remain stinking in the blue barrels equipped with toilet seats, until the Sherpas ferry him to Gorakshep , the frozen bottom of the lake, which has become the specialized landfill of Everest. In 2014, the Nepalese government decided that climbers must leave the mountain with 8 kg of garbage or pay a fee of $ 4,000, but excess waste remains another problem.

Waste porter descends from Everest base camp

Rubbish and waste on Everest

“It struck me emotionally,” Harry Porter told me [Garry Porter; By the way, porter in English is a porter / approx. trans. ], an experienced climber and retired Boeing engineer. “We were in the most amazing country in the world, passed this journey, and watched how they took our cacao. There’s some kind of imbalance, Porter adds. “And what is our farewell tribute to the people of Nepal?”

Harry Porter on Everest

Seven years ago, Porter decided to make kakah his problem and co-founded the project “ Biogas of Everest, ” relying on volunteers, engineers and architects who work with the most persistent mountain problem. And the time for its solution has long come. In a 2012 study of two water sources near Gorakshep, conducted by the National Science Foundation, it was found that one of themdoes not meet the standards for drinking water of the World Health Organization.

“You can’t dump excrement in open pits near water sources without waiting for environmental problems,” Porter said.

How do they plan to solve this problem? Turn all waste into energy using “biogas methane tank”.

Methtankas do not represent something special, but they achieve their goals. “This is not some kind of new high tech,” Porter warned. It's just a tank filled with organic waste bacteria. They produce methane as a by-product of activity, as well as liquid fertilizer. This gas can be collected and used to feed everything from tea houses on Everest to laptops, becauseon Everest, there is the Internet .

The image of a methane tank for biogas production

Theoretically, Everest can be provided with uninterrupted shit energy. But the mountain will not allow to do this too easily. In order for these bacteria to feel good and eat with appetite, they must be warm; they are active only at an ecosystem temperature of 20 to 30 ° C. In the base camp, located at an altitude of 5300 m above sea level, the temperature regularly drops to zero. Porter says methane tanks are used throughout Nepal, China and India, but not so high in the mountains. If this technology can be adapted to one of the most inhospitable climates in the world, it can be applied to other mountains that are experiencing problems with waste.

The team needed a way to keep the methantank warm around the clock and with the help of ready-made equipment, which can be purchased locally. Porter wants this project to be fully implemented in Nepal - right down to the last battery. “We want this project to be Nepali. We build it at our own expense and give them the keys to it, ”he told me.

The solution was a 8.5 kW solar battery, similar to the ones people put on their roofs , bought in Kathmandu. A solar panel connected to 48 2-volt batteries creates enough electricity to warm the methantank overnight.

“We are ready to test this scheme, the client is ready to participate in the project, but we need to raise money,” says Porter, although during our conversation he was not ready to estimate the cost of the project. The project is still in the prototype stage, but the team, working with Seattle and Kathmandu Universities, proved that the methane tank is capable of working with human waste and producing methane, at least under optimal temperature conditions in the laboratory.

The team is already thinking about the following steps. Porter does not want to allow the use of fertilizer until he checks for the content of human pathogens - from norovirus to cholera. If the pathogens are able to survive in the methane tank, the fertilizer will not be safe for use in growing grain to feed people.

The owners of the tea house in Nepal

Everest Biogas Project worked with two Nepalese organizations, the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee and the Sagarmatha Committee on the management of the buffer zone of the national park to ensure that the installation plans comply with the standards of these Nepalese workers.

"They said: Most of all we are interested in when you can already start, because what the climbers do here is a lack of respect for the mountain," Porter added.

Some climbers believe that the mountain has recently evolved from a place of pilgrimage for adventure seekers to a tourist lure for the rich. But, regardless of what Everest has become, its modern heritage wasbuilt on the backs of often nameless and invisible Sherpas. The Everest biogas project seems to be beginning to slowly pay this debt.

Porter’s respect for Everest is obvious, and he is confident that the project with biogas is a success. “How can we protect the mountain so that it is accessible to both my children and my children’s children?” Asks Porter. “For me, it's just a matter of the future.”

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