Space & Innovation

Turn Food Scraps Into Backyard Biogas

Just 1.6 gallons of organic waste could create three hours of cooking gas.

People waste a lot of food. According to the United Nations Environment Program, first world countries waste about 220 million tons of food per year.

And although reducing the amount of food that ends up in the garbage should be a goal for everyone, turning organic waste into fuel could reduce the amount that finds its way into landfills.

10 Crazy Crowdfunding Ideas That Worked!

A mere 1.6 gallons of food waste could create three hours of cooking gas, according to the folks who launched the HomeBioGas fundraising campaign on Indiegogo. Their prepackaged system arrives in a box and can be set up in any backyard in about two to three hours.

It contains a digester filled with special bacteria that like to eat organic waste. Just feed the top with food waste, dairy, meat and even litter box refuse and let the microbes do their thing. As they eat what you don't want, they produce methane gas that can be piped into the house - please use a licensed plumber - and right to your stove.

Because the contraption produces gas at a low pressure, the safety level is high and the risk for an explosion very low.

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"Even if there is a leak, since methane is lighter than air, it immediately evaporates and gets dissipated in the atmosphere," Ami Amir told Gizmag.

The resulting by-product from the HomeBiogas system is a natural liquid fertilizer that users can pour on their garden to grow more food.

Even though the HomeBioGas system is relatively new to Indiegogo, several systems have already been installed in communities throughout the Middle East and Africa, where people living in poverty often cook using wood, charcoal or coal. These solid fuels create air pollution and according to the World Health Organization, kill more than 4 million women and children each year.

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As of this posting, the Indiegogo campaign has exceeded its US$100,000 goal, but there is still time to reserve your own. Backers should receive their systems in May 2016.

See the video below for more details.

Crowdfunding ideas are a dime a dozen, quite frankly. They rotate into the business and science news cycle for a few days, then submerge into the ocean of terrible ideas. But the interesting ones are those that are so crazy ... they just might work. Here are ten that actually did.

Detroit's statue of

Joe Louis' fist

caused a commotion when it was unveiled in 1986. The city's warm and cuddly image will soon be getting another boost with this ten-foot-tall, 3,000-pound

statue of Robocop

, successfully crowdfunded in 2011. The official public unveiling is scheduled for later this year.

A 50-foot long, fully articulated electro-mechanical snake, the

Titanoboa

was initially funded via Kickstarter and has since made the rounds at various science and technology expos. (The Titanoboa is also a

real prehistoric snake

, by the way.)

In December 2012, creator James Brown raised $46,261 -- from 651 backers -- to realize his dream: A line of

Combat Kitchenware

for the martial-minded gourmand. Brown's manufacturing shop is currently up and running in Philadelphia.

Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest ones. Yes, that's right, it's

a pi pan

. Hungry mathematicians are clearly generous -- creator Garrett H initially raised $17,542, well past his $2,000 goal, and has been shipping out pi pans ever since.

Set for shipping in August of 2015, the

Breathometer Mint

monitors breath quality and hydration and wirelessly transmits data (and advice) to your smartphone. In case you're wondering, the Mint gadget assesses breath quality by measuring volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) in your breath sample.

Never underestimate America's passion for convenience. The

Couchlet

is a dual USB port designed to wedge between your couch cushions or bed mattress and box spring. The recently concluded Indiegogo campaign raised $64,227 from 2,130 backers.

An idea that can only be described as unequivocally awesome, the

Magic Wheelchair

campaign is designed to fund "epic wheelchair costumes" for kids in time for Halloween of this year. The initial funding goal of $15,000 has already been surpassed, and the team plans to build an extra costume for every $3,000 pledged.

A winner at last year's Google Science Fair, the

SensorWake

is an olfactory alarm clock that rouses you from your slumber with the aroma of your choice -- coffee, bacon, the ocean … even the smell of money. Teenage inventor Guillaume Rolland quadrupled his starting goal of $54,751 and hopes to start shipping in November 2015. And yes, the device includes a backup audio alarm.

In 2012, two Brooklyn developers raised more than a half a million dollars for the

Remee

-- a lucid dreaming sleep mask billed as a device that allows users to control their dreams. Remee's built-in LEDs can be set on a timer to flash particular sequences during REM sleep, triggering lucid dreaming. Reviews have been mixed, but Remee is still a

going concern

.

One of crowdfunding's greatest and weirdest success stories, the

Bug-A-Salt

is a non-toxic "insect eradication device" that kills by way of high-velocity table salt. Just drop a pinch of salt into the plastic shotgun -- then cock, aim and fire. No batteries required. Since its initial 2012 Indiegogo campaign, the makers have sold more than 20,000 units worldwide, with accessories.