I once heard from a high-level corporate researcher at a 1983 biogas conference that Marco Polo’s writings mention masonry-covered digesters in China. I’ve now seen this claim suggested by couple folks I’ve mentioned it to. I’d certainly like it to be true, but it would be nice to verify through the original Italian source.

It seems most appropriate that China, the land of farmers for more than 40 centuries, is also the area of greatest effort toward thedomestication of anaerobic digestion. For most cases, Chinese implementation of biogas replaces the burning of stalks – which may then be fed to pigs – or pressed coal briquets – with their ecosystem destruction, pollution, and climate chaos implications.

After working with early Chinese-design digesters in central West Virginia in the early 1980s (as discussed in OARS’ Efforts), I was fortunate enough to visit China with a University of Pennsylvania program in 1987. In an attempt to differentiate myself from the usual visitor just observing the multitude of efforts, I China: Graphic of the basic Chinese design – all digestion and most gas storage in one masonry tank (~ 1986)

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