Did you know:
  • 3 billion people rely on inefficient and polluting cooking systems?
  • 4 million people a year die prematurely from illnesses attributed to household air pollution?
The simple everyday act of cooking a hot meal for the family, using fuel wood, damages health: wood smoke is responsible for more deaths globally than malaria and HIV combined. Women and children shoulder the majority of the responsibility for cooking and collecting fuel, therefore they suffer the most from lack of clean fuel.

A young mother and child next to an open cookfire (Ghana, 2011)

A young boy sits next to an open cookfire (Bolivia, 2016)


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)

We have met families in Tanzania that used to walk for four hours a day to collect firewood for cooking (that’s 2.5 working days a week, totalling 130 days a year). Now they can harness their cattles’ dung to create gas for cooking following the construction of an expanding bag biogas digester and training in how to use it. Replacing fuel wood with gas from dung (biogas) frees up time for other activities, plus women and children don’t have to breathe in harmful smoke like when cooking with firewood.

A woman carrying firewood (Tanzania, 2019)

Ring burner stove fueled by biogas (Tanzania, 2019)


Play Video

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)

Portable Biogas

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).

We are now prototyping alternative ways to package a greater quantity of usable biogas in an easily portable container as part of our Bitesize Energy Exchange project. During 2021 we will be trialing ways of using surplus biogas for productive use in Uganda and Tanzania. Ultimately portable biogas can be distributed as a clean fuel to households that cannot afford to construct their own digester and/or to fuel activities in other locations in addition to household cooking.

MECS biogas bag field trials (Tanzania, 2020)