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University launches machine that produces biogas from water hyacinth

Biogas jkuat

Farmers and fishermen living along the shores of Lake Victoria and other water hyacinth infested lakes can now eradicate the weed that affects fishing by blocking boat access using the newly launched machine by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology.

In Kenya it is estimated that the fishing business has been reduced by 70 percent because of the problem of the water hyacinth menace in Lake Victoria, Kenya’s largest fresh water lake and source of fish. The toxic invader causes an estimated loss of $150m every year according to a research done by the University of Nairobi.

“The machine utilizes 20kg of water hyacinth every three days to produce a clean gas that can be used for cooking or electricity generation through powering of a generator,” said Raphael Kungu, a research expert at The Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology.

To use generate biogas, harvest water hyacinth and feed the anaerobic digester with the produce and leave it for three days. The gas produced needs cleaning and will therefore be passed through a water trap to remove water particles. A de-sulphurizer is then used to remove excess sulphur gas and carbon dioxide gas that prevents combustion.

A flow meter is then used to check the level of gas produced before being compressed to a container for use at home.

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Biogas is a renewable energy source that helps low income families reduce over dependency on traditional fuel sources such as firewood.

According to a report published by the Society for International Development (SID), a total 65 per cent of households in the country use primitive fuels, mostly firewood (64 per cent), as their main source of cooking fuel, followed by transitional fuels, ordinarily charcoal (17 percent).

Only six per cent of households use advanced fuels, typically liquefied petroleum gas (five per cent). The use of transitional fuels is seven times more in urban areas than in rural areas. On the other hand, the use of primitive fuels is four times more in rural areas than in urban areas.

Four million people die annually as a result of lung and heart related diseases arising from solid fuels according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In Kenya, the WHO report of 2016 estimates that at least 14,300 people die annually from health conditions arising from indoor air pollution.

Interested farmers can contact Raphael Kungun on +254 722 784 785.

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