I’ve been inundated with requests for more information about the biogas system after my good friend Jagi told all his friends and they told theirs so on … I love social networking but in this case it’s socialnetWORKING.
I got a comment from Stephen Kamau who says
“EYE WITTNESS-This system really works.I bought the system through M-pesa after visiting a home in Transmara where i found Dominic stiring cow shit, and when he explained how it works,i decided to purchase. I installed it myself with my wife giving hand when i needed help and, after three weeks there was more gas than what our kitchen requires.
Thank you for the easiest technology.”
This blog is for all those people who want a share of Stephens joy.
Everyone who has seen my biogas system above, has asked how to get one. Loads of people want to buy one for their mother back in the village. Yes you can have one!
If you’d like to order it, simply call Dominic 0722 700 530 to place your order or email him Dominic Wanjihia email@example.com. The costs vary but range from Ksh 45,000 to 55,000. Specifics can all be found here on the Simply Logic official website http://www.biogas.co.ke/
Start with basics. What is biogas?
Biogas is the gas produced by the biological breakdown of organic matter through fermentation. The gas is made up of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Methane is highly combustible with oxygen when in contact with air. This occurs in anaerobic conditions which is in the absence of oxygen.
Biogas can be produced from a variety of materials such as manure, sewage, garden and kitchen wastes, and yes, your own dung.
Methane biogas burns hotter than butane with a beautiful blue hue – it helps to have someone beautiful to cook for you too (no that’s not me).
Thus, biogas is a low-cost fuel which can be used for any heating purpose, such as cooking and boiling water.
Justification for biogas use in Kenya
Everyone knows that Kenyas forests are disappearing because of charcoal and even though it’s leading to climate change, water shortages and power cuts, yet everyone still uses charcoal!
Some scary facts
- It is estimated that wood makes up 95% of domestic energy use in Kenya.
- The per capita use of wood is 1 ton per year! Crikey there are more than 40 million of us now!What about next year and the next and on and on….
- Natural replacement rates of wood fuel are estimated to be less than 60% – ie wood supplies are disappearing by 40 % each year in Kenya.
- Given the above, there will be no (affordable) charcoal in the near future. We need alternative affordable energy.
Most Kenyans have no alternative fuel source to wood fuel. 75% of the population, lives in rural areas with no access to, or money to afford liquid gas or Kerosene. But the good news is that nearly everyone has a cow – or access to one.
Actually biogas can be produced from any biological waste so rural farmers and pastoral communities can produce more than enough energy though biogas if they just had digesters… that’s where we come in
The miracle of Biogas
Before you get too excited let me remind you that biogas is not a new concept. Ancient Persians observed that rotting vegetables produce flammable gas and in 1859 Indians built the first sewage plant in Bombay. Biogas has been used in China for 2,000–3,000 years. It’s just that we in Kenya are ridiculously slow in adopting appropriate and obvious technology.
Two types of biogas digesters have been previously promoted in Kenya. The floating dome type from India and fixed dome types from China. Both are used widely in their home countries but haven’t done all that well here.
Studies have been done to find out why Kenyans don’t take to biogas and have come up with several reasons –
- Fixed dome and floating top systems are very expensive to install with costs ranging from Kes 150,000 and upwards for domestic systems. Ie. it’s just too expensive.
- They require technical expertise in construction which requires masonry stones and cement. It can take several days or weeks to construct. This adds to the cost and sheer scaryness of it.
- Metal parts of the dome are prone to rusting requiring regular repair or replacement
- Since it’s a construction, the user must own the land due to the construction requirements
- Parts are bulky requiring expensive truck transportation – we all know what a rip off it is to hire a pick up or lorry
- Some of the parts are imported and are not locally produced or widely available
Enter the (Dominic) FLEXIGAB biogas digester
Dominic Wanjihia has been scratching his head about the energy problems in rural parts of Kenya. Just think about it, if you are reading this blog you probably have an obvious source of energy, electricity.
All you need is one energy source to provide you with all the conveniences you need – fridge, stove, hot water, lights. Without electricity your life would be severely compromised – no way to cool and store food, no way to work at night, watch TV, listen to radio, have a hot shower … and most of all, no way to work! But that’s how many Kenyans live. No wonder we are losing so much productivity.
After seeing piles of dung wasting away at Maasai Manyatta’s, and the owners lamenting the flies, Dominic wondered why they weren’t making and using biogas – afterall, the women spend hours fetching firewood. The simple reason – they didn’t know anything about it.
Building a fixed dome by a manyatta didnt’ seem all that acceptable or convenient, especially if the family moved, and getting materials into remote areas was another challenge. Then there’s the cost – the underground dome systems cost too many cattle. So started the flow of ideas – the Maasai needed something transportable, cheap and easy to operate,
That’s the true story of how the Flexibag biogas digester was born.
Dominic scratched his head some more, toured the juakali sector for materials, parts, ideas, pipes, and started sewing things together… testing what works and what doesn’t. We did a lot of research on the internet – bags have been used before but they failed due to light weight materials used. After many experiments and failures we now have something that works incredibly well.
The system Dom finally settled on is so simple it made him laugh. It comprises a heavy duty rubber bag as the digester. It sits mostly above ground and uses PVC pipes for inputs and outputs. Plastic gas pipes tap the gas from the digester and transfer it to the point of use. If the volume of gas is low the pressure can be increased by simply adding pressure to the biogas bag by placing 4 – 6 jerrycans full of sand on top (nothing with sharp edges should be used).
Some simple facts about WHY YOU SHOULD GET ONE OF THESE.
- It is cheap –
Ksh 28,000 (USD 400)Ksh 45,000 (sorry folks I’ve had to update this today for the new and much improved digesters (March 2nd 2011) – check Simply Logic Website for all updates on costings) for the bag and pipes making it affordable for domestic and small businesses (appliances are a separate cost).
- Cooking appliances can run directly from the biogas after a slight modification.
- It is made from locally available and affordable materials. Ie there is no need for imported parts
- Durable – the envelope is made of a very strong rubberized textile which is tear resistant materials. To protected from sunlight with a layer of grass, and from livestock by surrounding with a small fence
- It is light weight and easily portable – this system can be quickly transported into rural areas weighing 10 kg and packs small enough to be carried on a bicycle or motorbike.
- If you decide to move it, it is easily transferrable. There is no masonry construction involved in setting up this system so the bag can be emptied, rolled up and moved to a new location.
- Installation is quick – the only requirement is to level a patch of ground. the time taken to install build the system is only a few minutes for roll out the envelope and connect pipes.
- In the event of rips, tears (vandalism) or broken pipes, repair of the system is easy, quick and cheap (no digging and masonry works)
- Biogas production is rapid – being above ground promotes rapid gas production attributed to the high temperatures achievable by direct sun exposure‘
Let me explain how it works. You add fresh cow dung that has been mashed with water til it’s smooth like porridge into the poop pipe in the foreground. Once in the bag it begins to ferment and move slowly across the digester till it’s “exhausted”. Gas that is formed presses down on the poop and pushes the exhausted stuff out of the orange pipe in the background. If the gas pressure rises because you aren’t using enough gas, it will simply push more poop out the other end. No, it can’t explode and shower you with wet dung.
We found that two big buckets of dung were enough to keep a household of 3 plus 4 dogs going continuously.
The pipe in the middle is the gas pipe – simply connect that to your gas stove* Note that this sytem will not work on those fancy Hotpoint cooker jobbies, we’re talking about 1 or 2 ring Mekko type stoves which are specially adapted for biogas which does not come under as much pressure as methane in a tank. Once modified the stove cannot be restored to a methane stove. We have also made special burners for ovens – special is an overstatement, they are so simple you will cry.
10. The envelope digester will produce and hold up to 5 cubic meters of gas which is adequate for one family cooking needs for 2 days. As long as dung is added daily the gas production can be maintained.
11. The capacity of the system is easily expanded – to increase gas capacity (eg for several houses, a village or school), simply add more flexi bags beside the initial one and connect with pipes.
12. The exhausted dung is emitted by the system automatically and has no bad odour (dung will need to remain in the bag for up to 3 months to be fully digested). It is channeled directly to the farm or vegetable patch where it can be used immediately (no further composting required).
13. This system can be adapted to include human wastes as well as kitchen wastes.
14. The cost of Flexibag system will be offset within 2 years afterwhich the cost of gas is free.
I did a simple calculation and worked it out
|Options||Cost (US$ )||Time to install (days)||Labour||Maintenance||Durability|
|Fixed dome||1,500 – 2000||21||5 people||Low||Decades|
|Floating top||2,000 – 3,500||21||5 people||Low||Decades|
|Flexi bag envelope||400||1||1 person||Low||10 – 15 years|
|Fuelwood or LPG cylinders||200 (per year)||0||0|
I bet you want to ask, but does the system REALLY work?
Yes it does. I’ve installed one at home and my gas cylinder is now idle. So many people want to know more about thow it works, and especially how to get one. Well, hopefully it’s all in this blog post
Your mother needs one of these
If you would like to see a demonstration, or order one of these, simply call Dominic 0722 730500 to place your order or email him Dominic Wanjihia firstname.lastname@example.org
“First they Ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win” Kikulacho – the Bite Within.
I had the pleasure of attending the premier of Kikulacho at the West Gate Mall on Tuesday with a very mixed group of Kenyans and non Kenyans… big people like Jeff Koinange, Jashpal Ghai, Richard Leakey, and several Ambassadors.
While still downstairs, the film was introduced by Transparency International’s Richard Leakey and A24 Media’s Director Salim Amin who is the son of Mohammed Amin. We could hardly hear the speeches but before we they let us into the auditorium with popcorn and a free soda, they left us with a bizarre warning
“Do not enjoy this film”.
An hour later I understood but felt they had understated things. They should have warned us that the film would assault our senses, shock us, depress us and leave us without an answer. I came out totally shell shocked. It’s a horror film, the horrors of what we have done to the place we call home, our beloved country, Kenya.
It starts like an old fashioned movie about an Indian family in Parklands in Nairobi. They are waking up and getting ready for the day, the handsome man is shaving, listens to the radio while his kids are finishing homework. The diligent wife in flowery vintage dress is pouring tea for breakfast. She asks what’s on the news – he says something forgettable about the land issue ..then kisses her goodbye and leaves for work. As he drives off in his ancient Volkswagen Bug a man steps out from the bushes and guns him down – right there, infront of you.
The haunting sound of his daughter screeching will stay with you for the rest of the film.
The shock of that first scene wakes you up with a start, and makes you sit up. Kikulacho reminds us that Pio Pinto, an Asian was Kenya’s first political assassination. The film takes us backwards and forwards in history assassinations, land grabbing, British, Moi, Kibaki, Kenyatta, – this kind of to and fro is exactly what’s been happening to us. So much has happened, we are so confused, we are being confused, and we are repeating mistakes. No, not mistakes, we are repeating crimes.
Ever since Kenyatta, we have let our politicians pull the wool over our eyes, blaming the colonials for all the woes of Kenya. We forget that we are the employers of these politicians and that the power is in our hands to change things.
Kikulacho – the Bite Within, examines how corrupt systems and policies have impacted everyone in Kenya, including the common people. It reveals how we have been manipulated, cheated and coopted into corruption.
A24 Media says that it is also a story of hope and triumph that aims to look at how our institutions and leadership can be shaped by the people themselves to realize their dreams.
That message must have gone over my head. I felt angry, very angry, depressed and shaken by the end of the film. I filled a questionnaire afterwards, but the truth is I had not digested what the film was conveying. It is so jam packed with information, images, truths and horrors, it’s the kind of film you have to watch in parts, digest, discuss, and repeat over and over to really appreciate the value of the work that has gone into the production. This film forces us to confront our demons, it’s harsh, really harsh.
Like Kenya, Kikulacho is not a polished production – it’s raw and in your face. A24 Media did a superb job of using historical archives, and interviews with people from across the country. It made me proud to hear the voices of so many intelligent Kenyans, and yet very angry that despite our human potential and moral values, our leaders have used policies and constitutions to destroy the moral fiber of Kenya. To divide and ruin us as a people and a nation.
Kikulacho reveals the gigantic elephant into the room that nobody has been talking about with regards to the new proposed constitution – the question of land, how land abuse started under the British and was perpetuated under Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki. How land has been used to further political aims, and anyone suggesting that the land problem would lead to a crisis, was dealt with using bullets.
This film needs to be shown across the country in every bar, club, home, shop, movie theater, and on every channel. I suggested it should even be serialized on mobile phones, put on Youtube and played in open spaces. It was made just in time for the country’s referendum on whether to adopt a new constitution (August 4th 2010). Kikulacho does not take sides on the referendum, but it will make Kenyans think carefully about their decision. I’ve heard people say “I haven’t read the proposed constitution but my MP has, I trust him” or “I’m going with what my church leader says”. I always ask why? Do you think these people are more intelligent than you? Do you really think you are that dumb? It always gets shocked stares and the response “I’m not stupid!” … but we are. When you watch Kikulacho you will realize that we all are very stupid for continuing to elect, trust and then question our corrupt leaders. I am especially stupid, I have been so disappointed with politics in Kenya that I didn’t even bother to register. After watching Kikulacho I absolutely want to vote.
At the end of the film TI aired a short piece of school children answering the question about corruption starting with “what is corruption?”. I thought that this short piece detracted from the main feature but many of the viewers commented that hearing the intelligence and the innocence of these children was humbling. Actually it was embarrassing – one child said ”I’m corrupt because I got my friend the prefect not to write my name down for making noise in class”. How many Kenyans give bribes to police and government officials to get things done or to get out of trouble, but do not consider themselves to be corrupt? Kikulacho – the Bite Within is biting me all the time. I can’t stop thinking about it.
After the film US Ambassador Michael Rannenberger was supposed to give a speach but he didn’t make it due to a delayed flight. It didn’t matter we were all, milling about in a state of shock. Nothing he could have said would have added to the power of the film. I made a donation to the David Munyakei Fund – remember David, the famous Goldenberg whistleblower who died without dignity because of us!
Watch the film and send your comments to 0717666013 and go to their facebook http://www.facebook.com/kikulacho or join their fan page here http://www.facebook.com/Kikulacho?ref=ts&v=wall and get involve din the conversation.
You can watch the preview of Kikulacho here. The preview plays fine but website seems to be still in construction because none of the other links worked like meet thee makers.
This is how I fee, totally parlaysed. Should we vote Red or green on Kenya’s proposed new constitution?
Lest We Forget, Dr MAKODINGO has attempted a historical review. Hope it helps…
Origin of Kenya
The territory now known as Kenya came into existence on 12th December 1897 as a protectorate of the British Monarch. The people were put under the political and military patronage of the Queen of England.
In 1920, Kenya was made a British Colony, the territory becoming part of the British Empire.
Imposition of colonial order was achieved through military force, introduction of a new faith, use of English law in place of African Customary laws and the imposition of an economic order that was intended to create wealth for the colonial settlers. Existing constitutional orders of the African communities were destroyed.
An administrative system of Chiefs, Dos, DCs and PCs were created to enforce the colonial order.
This oppressive system was vehemently opposed by the African peoples. Three factors combined to accelerate and bring about the desired changes under the colonial order: Resistance by local communities, Weakening of the British Empire by the cost of World War II, and the increased climate for self-determination and respect for human rights.
Constitutional Landmarks to Independence:
1954: The Littleton Constitution.
§ Named after the then Colonial Secretary, Sir Littleton
§ This was the first Multiracial Constitution
§ Established a Council of Ministers of 12
§ 6 were to be appointed by the Governor
§ 6 Elected: 3 Europeans, 2 Asians and 1 African.
o The African representatives rejected these arrangements.
1958: Lenox-Boyd Constitution
§ Increased the Council of Ministers to 16
§ Half elected, and half Appointed.
§ Europeans were still the majority.
§ Redistribution of Land, release of political prisoners and Repeal of repressive laws not addressed
§ Demand for full independence was in the air
§ Africans demanded for a Constitutional Conference to negotiate for Independence.
1960: Macleod Constitution
§ A product of Lancaster I in 1960
§ Provided for a majority of Africans in LEGCO( of 65 Members) and Council of Ministers
§ Provided for Independence
§ Alluded to self-internal government.
1961: First Multiracial Election
§ Held in February 1961
§ KANU won the polls but refused to form Government demanding the release of Kenyatta as a precondition
§ KADU, the opposition formed government
1962: Lancaster II
§ Resulted into internal self-rule
§ Queen still had control over Legislature, defence, Internal security and Foreign Affairs
§ Majimbo present
1963: Constitution passed as an Act of British Parliament in April and became Law May 31st 1963.
§ Fully Bicameral Parliament with 131 House of Representatives and 41 Senators
§ Cabinet headed by PM
§ First internal government took office on June 1st 1963
§ Marked the first Madaraka Day
§ Later, Lancaster III was held
§ In December the Country became Independent as a Dominion but not a republic
§ The Queen was still the Head of State, and PM Kenyatta Head of Government
1964: Independent Parliament amended the Constitution to make Kenya a Republic
§ Majimbo system heavily eroded
§ Concentration of power in the presidency began
§ Created the basis of a single-party system
Between 1964 and 1991, successive amendments sought and did achieve to recreate the Colonial Order in Kenya, only this time, a Kenyan was the Monarch.
Note that even after independence;
§ Colonial repressive laws remained unchanged
§ Colonial Administrative system remained intact
§ The political system became a wealth-creating system for the elite through corruption.
Between the short period covering 1963 and 1991, the Kenya Constitution was amended several times. These include:
1. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 28 of 1964
§ Made Kenya a Republic
§ Created office of the President and made him both Head of State and Government
§ President elected by House of representatives constituted as Electoral college
§ Executive Authority of Jimbos highly watered down
§ Modified provisions for Citizenship and local authorities
2. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) (No 2) Act No 38 of 1964
§ Transferred to Parliament powers to alter regional boundaries. Originally the power of the regions
§ Independent sources of revenue to regions stopped making them entirely dependent on Central Government
§ Regional Presidents designated Chairmen
§ Appointing authority of Judges given absolutely the President’s. Requirement for consultation with at least 4 Regional presidents before appointing CJ removed
§ Ex-Officio MPs lose their votes in NA
3. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 14 of 1965
§ Constitution amendment threshold reduced from 90% to 65% in Senate and 75% to 65%
§ Executive power of regions deleted completely
§ Abolished appeals to privy councils; Supreme Court replaced with High Court
§ Approval of Emergency increased from 7 to 21 days and threshold reduced to simple majority from 65%
§ Removed provisions concerning control of Agricultural land transactions from the Constitution
4. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 16 of 1966
§ Required MPs who had not attended NA for over 8 sittings or imprisoned for over 6 months to lose their seats ( Many KANU rebels were not going to NA) and some had joined KPU
§ Minister in charge of citizenship given discretion to grant Citizenship to Commonwealth citizens residing in Kenya for over 6 months
§ Increased powers to rule by decree in NEP
§ National Youth Service included in disciplined forces.
5. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) (No 2)Act No 17 of 1966/Turn Coat Rule
§ Required for an MP to seek re-election at the end of the session of his defection
§ Meant to deal with Odinga and Co who had left KANU for KPU without resigning their seats. Odinga and Kenyatta’s wars started in earnest.
6. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) (No 3) Act No 18 of 1966
§ Period of NA review of Emergency orders increased from 2 to 8 months
§ Greater and wider derogations of Fundamental right and freedoms permitted. Removed the provision calling for reasonable justification for such derogations
§ Meant to allow for detention of recently defected KPU leaders
7. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) (No 4) Act No 19 of 1966
§ Both houses amalgamated to form on National Assembly
§ Increased constituencies by 41 to accommodate Senate MPs
§ Quorum of NA fixed at 30
§ Speaker of NA made Chair of ECK assisted by two Presidential appointees
§ References to Senate deleted and life of NA extended to end in June 1970 instead of 1968
8. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 4 of 1967
§ Meant to clear doubt over Section 42A (Turn Coat Rule)
§ Backdated the effect of the Fifth Amendment to 1963.
§ KPU members argued that the amendment came after they had decamped
9. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 16 of 1968
§ Abolished Provincial Councils and deleted from the constitution any references to the provincial and district boundaries and alterations thereof
10. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) (No 2) Act No 16 of 1968
§ Election of President made to be by Universal Suffrage
§ Every party required to nominate a Presidential Candidate
§ Ballot paper made to pair President and MP from same party
§ Independent candidates barred from contesting
§ Qualifications for presidency introduced
§ President empowered to appoint members of PSC and nominate 12 MPs
§ Altered provisions of presidential succession and removed parliamentary approval for state of emergency declaration
11. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 5 of 1969
§ Consolidated all the Constitutional amendments as at February 1969 thereby resulting in a revised Constitution for Kenya in one document which was declared to be the authentic document
§ Membership of ECK altered by making all members appointed by the President
12. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 10 of 1974
§ Reduced the age of voting from 21 to 18
13. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 5 of 1974
§ Made Kiswahili one of the official languages of the National Assembly
14. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 1 of 1975
§ Repealed Constitution of Kenya(Amendment) No 2 of 1974
§ Provided that all financial resolutions and written laws be presented to the House shall be written in English, and all other issues would be debated in Kiswahili
§ Extended the Presidential prerogative to include annulling disqualifications arising out of a ruling of the Elections Court – Ngei Amendment (meant to benefit Ngei)
15. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 13 of 1977
§ Established the Court of Appeal
§ Abolished the right to directly remit compensation for acquisition of property abroad without complying with foreign exchange regulations
16. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 1 of 1979
§ Provided for use of English as an alternative Parliamentary language
§ Proficiency in Kiswahili made a prerequisite for qualification for people seeking parliamentary office
17. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 5 of 1979
§ Specified period within which a civil servant must resign to seek office
§ 6 months prior to preliminary elections
18. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 7 of 1982
§ Introduced Section 2A that changed Kenya from a de facto to de jure one party state making Kenya a one-party state by Law
§ Turn coat rule(Fifth Amendment) repealed
§ Definition of a Political Party deleted
§ Method of nominations for General Elections amended making them a preserve of KANU
19. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 6 of 1986
§ Repealed Section 89 which provided for automatic Citizenship for people born in Kenya after Dec 1963. Henceforth, either of your parents must be Kenyan
20. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 14 of 1986
§ removed Security of Tenure of AG and Auditor & Controller General
§ abolished office of Chief Secretary
§ provided for a new min 168 and max 188 Constituencies
21. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 20 of 1987
§ Made all Capital offences non-bailable
§ torture of Political prisoners entrenched in the Criminal Justice system
22. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 8 of 1988
§ Legalised detention of Capital offenders for 14 days without trial allowing for time to torture
§ Removed security of tenure of Constitutional office Holders
23. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act 1990
§ Returned the Security of tenure of Constitutional office Holders
§ Provided for a max of 210 and min of 188 Constituencies
24. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act No 12 of 1991
§ Repealed Section 2A of the Constitution hence ending the de jure one-party rule in Kenya
§ The Turn Coat Rule (Fifth Amendment) was reintroduced
§ The nomination procedure leading to elections of the National Assembly and Presidency were amended to accommodate multi-partism
§ A definition of a political party was adopted.
The Amendments were meant to:
- Strengthening the Executive relative to the other arms of government
- Emasculating other arms of government
- Derogating fundamental human rights and civil liberties
Why the Amendments require Constitutional Review
- They have made the President more powerful than the King
- Led to manipulation of Legislature and Judiciary
- The Presidency controls distribution of national resources
- The people(Civil Society) have no say on [policy formulation and implementation
- Sycophancy and Corruption have been institutionalised
- Less protection of Human Rights
- Made it difficult for democracy to thrive
- Citizens are cowed by force of oppressive laws
- Elections are manipulated
- Tribalism and Ethnic animosity institutionalised i.e. through quota system
Dr MAKODINGO Washington, BPharm,MPSK
Registered Pharmacist and Constitutional Expert,
P O Box 60113 – 00200 Nairobi
“I’m not arrogant, just Smarter”
I know I’m onto a great thing by running my stoves on biogas, it’s cheap, easy and good for the environment.
Here are some facts about biogas from cow dung:
Cow dung gas is 55-65% methane, 30-35% carbon dioxide, with some hydrogen, nitrogen and other traces.
One cow produces approximately 36 – 68 kg of dung per day!
About one cubic meter of biogas can be generated from 16 kg of cow manure at around 28°C. This is enough gas to cook for a few hours.
One cow produces approximately 32 kg of dung per day – enough to feed a biogas system for an entire family!
We put two massive buckets of dung into our digester and have produced about 4 cubic meters of gas over a period of 3 days. Why is it acting so slow?
There are two things I need to do to improve my biogas system.
1. Find out what inputs are optimal for biogas production – does kitchen waste help?
2. Find out whether temperature or acidity is affecting the production of methane.
I set out to ask if my biogas is really operating at optimal temperatures, and how much methane is actually in the biogas?
My condom experiment yielded gas only from the mashed beans and dung so I tested that to find out if it was producing methane and not some other noxious gas .
After scouring Nairobi’s school lab suppliers I got a thermometer (-10 deg – + 60 deg Centigrade) for a whopping 750/- (almost 10$), a measuring cylinder for Ksh 250/- or 4$ (made in China – Pyrex one was 10 x the price!). I also bought some litmus ph paper (which cost me Ksh1,150 for a reel (US 20$). I also bought a 50 ml syringe at the school shop for a whopping Ksh 150/- (2) I feel so cheated).
I’m so annoyed because you can use red cabbages to test acidity for free! (if you have red cabbages)
Determination of methane concentration
I found a website (but can’t remember where ) that provided a protocol for testing the concentration of biogas (methane) produced. Sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) reacts with carbon dioxide to produce carbonates.
1. Dissolve some caustic soda crystals in 100ml water (watch out the stuff burns – add caustic soda grains to water not the other way round and don’t make it too concentrated – it really burns (experience)
2. Fill syringe with water then squirt most out to remove all gas
3. Put syringe end into the jet of biogas and draw in about 10 – 20 cc gas. Record the amount of gas.
4. Place into the caustic soda solution and draw up another 20 cc. Shake but keep the end of the syringe in the caustic soda solution. Or use a gloved finger to seal the end. Caustic soda burns like a bitch.
5. Now calculate the volume of the gas remaining. The NaOH absorbs all the carbon dioxide so you are left with only methane (in theory).
For our biogas we had 26/30 cc of gas was methane = that is a concentration of 86.7% methane. Not bad eh?
I then took the beans/dung condom, broke it under water, trapped the gas and repeated the experiment. 14/16 cc remained – that’s 87.5% methane. No real difference.
Out door temperature
The bacteria responsible for creating methane don’t like low temperatures. They operate optimally at 20 degrees and higher to 40 degrees. Lower than 10 degrees C and will virtually stop functioning.
Well, its’ the cold season here in Nairobi and our bag is above ground so it’s taking on the air temperature, especially at night. I took 4 temperatures including waking up at at 3 am and 5 am to measure the temperature – that’s dedicated!
10 am – 20.5
4 pm – 25
3 am – 15
5 am – 11.5
The generally low temperatures and daily range of 10 degrees centigrade may be pissing our bacteria off…but its the daily fluctuations that are the real problem. The bacteria’s really don’t like temperature shifts of more than 1 degree – no wonder the biogas production has slowed down.
Now I have to find a way of raising the temperature of the biogas plant and keeping it stable. My sister suggested I cover it with hay and sprinkle with water and effective microorganisms so that they start composting and producing heat…another stinky thought to consider. Or, I could simply dig a hole and partially bury the thing……
The problem of acidity
According to people who know, methane producing bacteria prefer neutral or slightly alkaline conditions. Like us humans, they don’t tolerate acidity! To find out hat’s happening to the acidity in the biogas digester I used the super expensive Ph paper that I bought in Nairobi at a swindlers shop on Kijabe Street (if you want home lab supplies don’t go to lab supplies, go to Kijabe street there are tons of stores but avoid the industrial suppliers and head to the school suppliers near Longonot Place – they have very cheap Chinese alternatives).
Well the tests came out in favour of methanogenic bacteria – the contents of the digester are living at a healthy pH of 9 which is rather alkaline.
Or maybe I just need more dung …
To find out more about my biogas installation check out my latest condom experiment on substrates with and the super cheap and very effective flexibag system designed by Dominic Wanjihia – and the motorbike trailer he designed to get dung to my house
Last week my sister served us delicious slow roasted Jerusalem Artichokes which a few hours later put our biogas digester to shame.
Come to think of it beans have the same effect… that got me thinking – are there some veges that are better than others to use in the biogas digester?
If you recall my earlier condom experiment showed that cowdung was so much better than any kitchen wastes for biogas production.
So I borrowed 3 condoms (Trust) and used up my remaining stash of Durex) and started grating Jerusalem artichokes, sweet potatoes, and mashing beans.
I repeated each with the same amounts of beans, Jerusalem artichokes and sweet potato mixed with some fresh cow dung. Finally I did one last condom as a control with just dung. I tied each with a dougle knot – don’t want any leakage.
I put the whole lot in a dark box and let it sit in the sun to warm up for 2 days. At night I put it in a cool box with a hot water bottle so it doesn’t get cold.
Here are the results after 48 hours
Sweet Potato, Sweet Potato+dung, Mashed beans, beans+dung, Jerusalem Artichoke, J. Artichoke+dung, Just dung
This may not be super science but it’s very very convincing. Dung and Beans Rock!
Some gas is being produced in all the condoms, but it’s astonishing how much more productive mashed beans with dung is. And that’s exactly what my stomach feels like after a meal of beans – pity they are so delicious. The Jerusalem artichokes are disappointing. So is the dung on it’s own which is very surprising.
But is this methane being produced or what? Next we need to test whether this really is methane – condom experiment #3 coming up…watch this space.
And if you want to see the latest on my amazing biogas system at home check out my latest post about a poop mobile on Afrigadget.
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