Research & Initiatives

Dr. Culhane's Solar CITIES Biodigester Projects

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April 25th, 2017
Dr. Culhane from The Patel College of Global Sustainability (PCGS) is the co-founder of Solar CITIES. The organization has a collective goal of the emergence of true Solar Cities, places where human and non-human beings can co-evolve without the threats posed by fossil carbon and radioactive materials. This is an open-source group that Dr. Culhane utilizes to share his biodigester (mechanical stomach that breaks down organic waste) projects.

"The Solar CITIES/Rosebud Continuum Education Center/USF Patel College Biodigester project can be described as the literal Food Energy Water NEXUS," explained Dr. Culhane. "It is the heart of sustainability in that this one central yet decentralized technology provides simple but effective solutions to our food energy water and waste management challenges, it is economically, socially, and environmentally viable, can be built anywhere by anyone, and engages students at all levels in what is possibly the best STEM curriculum activity for education and development."

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There are currently 12 active observatory sites in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area where Dr. Culhane is currently working on alongside PCGS students and faculty. Students have the option of choosing to join any of the following locations: Rosebud Continuum, Sustainable Living Center of Tampa Bay Harvest, Faith Lutheran Evangelical Church Community Garden, the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), Blake High School, St. Petersburg's Urban Eco-hostel, Hillsborough Community College, Ken Black's Backyard, Koreen Brennan Permaculture Farm, Sacred Lands of St. Pete, Amara Zee Boat from the Caravan Stage Company, and USF's Sycamore Drive. There are two additional sites not in the area, the Sacred Stone Campsite at Standing Rock and Lake Traverse Indian reservation in South Dakota and refugee camps in Jordan, which is part of a Solar CITIES project with the Clinton Global Initiative.

The most recent development with Dr. Culhane's projects is MOSI who has partnered with USF's Patel College for this biogas community action. VIGO importing and Alessi Foods have donated 30 tanks worth $3,000 to this project. These contain balsamic vinegar which will be used to feed the biodigesters at MOSI and will serve educational as well as practical purposes for the Butterfly Garden.

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"Patel students are now the leaders of our trainer of trainers model, building the core technology and doing workshops on how to integrate them with sustainable food production technologies now all over the Tampa/St. Petersburg region and increasingly out into the world," said Dr. Culhane.

Students and Alumni who are actively participating in the training and work at the Rosebud Continuum Education Center and in the 11 other observatory sites in the community include:

All these students have taken on lead roles in taking what they are learning in class and at Rosebud as well as our other observatory locations and translating them into the field.