Farmer's green living concept taken up by Chinese Academy of Science
Liu Xingshan, a 57-year-old farmer with no higher education, designed his novel low-carbon living spaces to combine solar and bio-energy sources. His ideas were showcased at the launch of the China Low-carbon 2010: Entrepreneurship Competition (28 November) - the country's first such competition, organized by Science News, the magazine of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
"I love the research because it could make life better and I'm glad to know my design is low-carbon and good for the environment," Liu said.
In his integrated household each of the six component parts helps the others: the fire pit, solar energy roof, greenhouse, livestock shed, biogas pool and a bathroom. Instead of inventing new devices, he has found ways to combine existing technologies so they work more efficiently.
"For example, putting the biogas pool beside fire pit can increase biogas production," said Liu, "because the pool can absorb heat from the pit."
The bio-gas, produced from sewage and plant leftovers, is used for boiling water, cooking and lighting, while the heat from its production warms the house and the livestock shed, he said.
Liu has patented five of his inventions, including the angling of the chimney flue so that carbon monoxide fumes can combine with other flammable gases for a second burn, heating the house further while cutting emissions.
So far 30 rural households based on Liu's low-carbon concept have been established in Fuxin city, Liaoning province. But re-configuring living quarters to Liu's design costs almost RMB 80,000 (USD 12,000), which is too expensive for many. And some people are also reluctant to listen to a farmer's advice on design.
So, last year, experts from Dalian University of Technology investigated the low carbon layouts. They praised Liu's model and have launched a project to advance and promote the design to lower costs and increase uptake.
"Liu's innovation could let bio-mass energy meet 100 percent of daily demand, replacing coal," said Chen Bin, a professor at the university.
"I will tell experts all I know without any restraint," Liu said, "with the help of experts, my low carbon model will be better."
Liu recently took out a USD 6,000 bank loan to work on his design, but is still not charging for his consultancy.
The winners of the competition will be announced in May 2011. They will receive strong support from the government and private enterprises, according to competition organizer, Jia Hepeng.