The Mt. Everest Biogas Project was initiated in April 2010 by Dan Mazur and Garry Porter. Both had personal knowledge of Mt. Everest and the environmental impact of the climber’s waste being dumped at Gorak Shep. Dan has guided Mt. Everest climbers for more than 20 years and spends 6 months a year in Nepal and Tibet. Garry is an engineer and a retired program manager from Boeing. Dan had knowledge of biogas digesters operating throughout Nepal and Garry had a background in making programs happen.
The question posed in 2010 by Dan was: could existing biogas digester systems be implemented in the harsh atmosphere of Gorak Shep? And so, the Mt. Everest Biogas Project was formed using an all-volunteer team from the Seattle area to answer the question: is there a sustainable solution to the human waste issue on Mt. Everest?
At the start of the biogas digester design process, the design team laid out 8 technical objectives.
- Ascertain the community need for a solution to the human waste problem.
- Will an anaerobic biogas digester function at the low temperatures at Gorak Shep and using human waste as feed stock?
- What factors influence the performance of the biogas digester?
- What are the Gorak Shep design requirements?
- What is the heat loss of the digester under various external temperatures; desired internal temperatures of the digester and different R-value insulation of the system?
- What are potential design solutions to negate the heat loss and meet the system requirements for a biogas digester at Gorak Shep?
- How to build the approved design at Gorak Shep?
- How to provide long-term sustainability?
Over the last 5 years, significant progress has been made on meeting the first 6 technical objectives.
In summary, the design team has determined that there is strong community support for the biogas project; that the biogas digester will function at Gorak Shep; that the heat loss of the digester is known and there are available subsystems that meet the Gorak Shep heating requirements. And finally, that the design is transparent such that it can be replicated in other cold environments. Major design efforts are now focused on the design of the shelter over the digester; construction of the biogas system at Gorak Shep, and long-term sustainability of the system.
Since inception of the program, progress has been slow but steady and this progress is detailed on the following pages.
Thank you for your interest and support of this important project. If you have skills that can be applied, get involved. If you can provide financial help, please consider contributing.