Namibia: Turning Household Waste Into Liquefied Biofuel to Save Electricity

Namibia: Turning Household Waste Into Liquefied Biofuel to Save Electricity

The founder of Nghishe Biotech, Charles Haluodi, has developed a system to convert organic waste such as food, animal and plant waste, into environmentally friendly flammable gas and organic fertiliser. The biology and chemistry graduate from the Namibia University of Science and Technology says that his system replaces the need for collecting firewood for heating and thereby significantly contributes to fighting climate change.

Haluodi registered his company in 2018 and explains that biofuel is produced through biological or biotechnologically engineered processes from biomass using small living organisms like bacteria.

“In terms of biogas, bio-methane is produced anaerobically in biomimicry engineered systems, resembling the stomach of a cow, with small living organisms (methanogens bacteria) under highly controlled conditions,” Haluodi explained. He added that biogas is extremely flammable and can be used for cooking, heating, generating electricity and even to power motor vehicles. Biogas can also be compressed into gas cylinders for easy transportation and can be liquefied.

Haluodi noted that biogas is quite affordable when compared to LPG (liquid petroleum gas), as the raw material it’s produced from is just organic waste such as food waste which always end up in dumping sites.

Hoping to be fully up and running by March this year, Haluodi expects an average five cubic-metre digester, which converts the waste to flammable gas, to retail in the region of N$8 000, including installation. However, he noted that to fully utilise the innovative system homeowners will have to install additional equipment depending on how they intend to use the system. This additional equipment could include a gas water heater, gas stove or gas-operated lights which could push the initial investment up to N$10 000.

Today Haluodi employs 10 full-time staff at Nghishe Biotech and has thus far invested about N$300 000 in setting up the business. Speaking to New Era’s Inside Business, he said he expects to invest an additional N$160 000 into necessary equipment as he establishes an operating plant at the Habitat Research and Development Centre. Currently he is still accommodated at the German Development Agency, GiZ, and has received support from SME Compete as well as the Habitat Research and Development Centre.

Said Haluodi: “In the past and even now across the 14 regions of Namibia, children, mothers and people in general who are trying to make a buck, collect firewood wherever they can. Even in urban areas, people living in informal settlements travel long distances to find firewood as for many this is the only way to ensure that any cooking can be done. As a result, forests are being cleared at a faster rate, natural habitats are disturbed and human health is compromised as these people are exposed to household pollution (smoke from burning wood), leading to health issues like heart disease, lung cancer, skin allergies.”

He said that because of this behaviour climate change is exacerbated as people continue to produce a lot of organic waste which is not managed properly. “This waste ends up at dumping sites or buried as a way of waste management and it still goes through a natural process of decomposing, in the process releasing huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This gas is energy that we can use,” said Haluodi.

According to Haluodi, Nghishe Biotech will sell very affordable compressed biogas in cylinders, targeting mostly those living in informal settlements and everyone there depends on firewood as a source of energy.

“Nghishe Biotech will also target farmers, both commercial and subsistence farmers, to construct special systems for them to be able to turn animal manure into cooking gas and organic fertiliser which can be ploughed back into the fields. These systems can also be engineered to connect with toilets, to safely decompose human waste into gas and fertiliser,” Haluodi said.

Source: New Era

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