Updated on September 10, 2020


Created on August 27, 2015

ADRA Cold Climate Biodigester

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ADRA Cold Climate Biodifester is a biodigester that uses straw and manure to produce biogas inside a fermenter compartment insulated with rice-shell ash or an equivalent material.

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Product Description

The Cold Climate Biogas Plant is designed and implemented by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) to operate in harsh climates that would incapacitate traditional plants. The digester is a fixed dome, in-ground concrete design and is part of a larger system that includes a greenhouse. The system is low cost and built for households in developing countries.

Market Suggested Retail Price


Distributors / Implementing Organizations

ADRA has partnered with the Thermal Institute of the Austrian National Academy of Sciences in the development and implementation of the product. The academy has promoted and replicated the design throughout the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea (North Korea). Other NGOs also develop the plant in Nepal and Afghanistan including the UNDP.

Manufacturing/Building Method

Intellectural Property Type

Open Source

User Provision Model

The product is supplied throughout North Korea (DPRK) through ADRA and the National Academy of Sciences. Advertising of the design is performed online and through DPRK newspapers. Interview with representative

Distributions to Date Status

As of July 2016, ADRA has constructed roughly 10 systems and the UNDP has constructed over 100 systems. Systems constructed by other entities are known to exist but have not been quantified.

Output energy product


Average daily biogas production (m3/day)

3-5 m3/day.

Description of waste source(s)

Human, animal, and organic waste

Waste input requirements (kg per hour or day)

160 L per day of organic matter. (The plant also requires 5.65 m3 of aerobic matter for heating, which should be replaced every 3 months.)

Description of other input requirements


Other input requirements (amount per hour)


System dimensions (m)

5 m3

Design Specifications

The system is designed for use in a greenhouse. The greenhouse has a footprint of 35 m2 and the digester has a volume of 5 m3. For gas production, about 0.16 m3 of anaerobic matter needs to be supplied to the plant. To properly produce heat, aerobic matter must be replaced at a rate of 5.65 m3 every three months. The plant can store 0.5 m3 of gas, requiring a plastic bag to capture the total 3-5 m3 of gas that the plant produces daily. Interview with representative The system is operable at temperatures as low as -15 °C (with greenhouse), gas output 4-9 m3/day, aerobic heating system 30-65 °C, anaerobic process <25 °C, system can digest human, animal, and organic waste.

Technical Support

Technical support is provided by ADRA . Interview with representative

Replacement Components

Replacement components are available. Interview with representative


The product has an expected lifetime of 10 years or more, depending on the level of maintenance.

Manufacturer Specified Performance Parameters

Designer-specified performance targets include: durable and efficient.

Vetted Performance Status

Testing performed by NOVA Energy, Switzerland determined an average daily biogas production.  Interview with representative ADRA's pilot study found that in cold weather (-20°C) the digester produced 0.6-1.0 m3 of biogas per day, and in warmer weather that increased to 1.2-1.5 m3.


Extreme caution is necessary when working with biogas. Adequate ventilation, appropriate precautions, good work practices, and adequate personal protective equipment will minimize the dangers associated with biogas. Wherever possible, digester-associated tasks and maintenance should be performed without anyone having to enter confined spaces, including pits.

Complementary Technical Systems


Academic Research and References

Reed, E.P., 2004, Unlikely partners in the quest for juche: humanitarian aid agencies in North Korea. Towards a Peaceful Resolution with North Korea Conference.

Sin, H.Y., Heo, E., Yi, S.K., Kim, J., 2010, South Korean citizens preferences on renewable energy support and cooperation policy for North Korea. Renewable and sustainable energy reviews, Vol. 14, 5, pp. 1379-1389.

Compliance with regulations

None. Design is adapted and adjusted to local standards in each country. No applicable international standards exist. Interview with representative

Other Information

ADRA is also committed to other SDGs and disaster relief activities.

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