GAS FROM DUNG
- 3 billion people rely on inefficient and polluting cooking systems?
- 4 million people a year die prematurely from illnesses attributed to household air pollution?
A young mother and child next to an open cookfire (Ghana, 2011)
A young boy sits next to an open cookfire (Bolivia, 2016)
HOW BIOGAS DIGESTERS WORK
The graphic below explains how biogas digesters work – click on the image to see a full sized version!
Expanding Bag Biogas Digester
These shocking realities influenced CREATIVenergie’s founders to explore how the benefits of biogas could be accessed in more affordable ways almost a decade ago, with an emphasis on construction with locally available materials. Dissemination of our biogas digester commenced with invitations from community based organisations to run our Train the Trainers Biogas Course in Kenya (2015) and The Philippines (2016), funded through a crowdfunder campaign.
CREATIVenergie has partnered with ECHO East Africa Impact Centre for several years, initially running a Biogas Conference and Co-Design Workshop to modify the Expanding Bag Digester design and to increase the uptake of biogas amongst the rural poor. We are grateful to the Scottish Government’s International Development Small Grants Program for funding this work in 2016-17. ECHO’s team continues to run biogas training courses and collaborate with us on other innovation projects.
Gareth at 'Train-the-Trainers' program (Kenya, 2015)
Participatory Design session (Tanzania, 2017)
Joel at co-design workshop (Tanzania, 2017)
A woman carrying firewood (Tanzania, 2019)
Ring burner stove fueled by biogas (Tanzania, 2019)
Through our partnerships in Tanzania we learnt that simply teaching people to construct biogas digesters and helping households to finance them does not provide long-term access to a clean cooking fuel.
Maintaining functionality of digesters has proven to be a worldwide challenge. It is often difficult for households to identify and contact a technician with the specialist skills to repair the system. Consequently, biogas digesters remain defective or completely broken, forcing users to revert to burning wood again.
Therefore CREATIVenergie spearheaded an international consortium to innovatively address the challenge of ensuring that biogas digesters remain operational, giving rural households more reliable access to a supply of clean energy. The 12 month feasibility study was primarily funded by Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst Round 4 (2017-18).
The resultant product, Smart Biogas is an affordable remote monitoring tool designed to ensure that problems with biogas digesters are identified and fixed quickly. This increases the reliability of supplies of gas from dung for families to cook with.
Smart Biogas is now commercially available via Connected Energy Technologies Ltd., a company that CREATIVenergie co-founded.
Herry, a biogas technician who uses Smart Biogas to help his customers maintain healthy biogas digesters (Tanzania, 2019)
Installing a Smart Biogas prototype (Tanzania, 2019)
Herry talking to a customer (Tanzania, 2019)
Over the years we have noticed that some households have greater supplies of biogas than they require. The digestion process is continuous but the storage capacity of a digester is limited – if the biogas fuel is not used but storage capacity is reached, e.g. at night, the gas disperses to the atmosphere. A grant from the Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) program enabled us and ECHO East Africa to collaborate on field trials for packaging surplus biogas in Tanzania (2019-20).
MECS biogas bag field trials (Tanzania, 2020)