Fixed-dome biogas plant for rural households
Power to the people
The world today is rapidly producing and trashing waste, even while this waste has the potential of being utilized. India discovered the utility of waste quite early in the day. Bovine waste has always been looked upon as a resource with something for everyone, especially in a traditional rural family that depended upon cultivation for sustenance.
To waste or not to waste
TERI undertook the task to widen the applications of biogas in a rural set-up while keeping in mind several challenges like the lack of infrastructure, easy maintenance, and so on. The team from TERI fine-tuned biogas-plant technology and introduced a spherical type fixed-dome biogas plant to ensure that not an iota of energy is wasted when working with waste. The spherical shape of the plant merges the digestion and gas storage spaces to a single dimension, making their construction far easier. It also minimizes the surface area for a given volume, thereby reducing cost while increasing the gas production rate.
Despite the thousands of conventional biogas plants that have mushroomed across hundreds of villages in north and central India (where cattle rearing is a way of life and therefore cow dung is aplenty) over the last few decades, they either failed to draw crowds or to keep them there. The largest drawback of this conventional set-up is its prohibitive cost. The not-tooperfect design of the plant and the sub-optimal outputs are the other serious handicaps. The plants break down frequently, maintenance is cumbersome, and repairs are few and far between.
New and improved
TERI used the expertise of its researchers to improvise the design of the biogas plant and create a leak-proof and spherical fixed-dome plant with a digester-cum-gas storage facility. The first such plant was installed and monitored in the village of Dhanawas, in the state of Haryana. The plants have been designed for high efficiency and low maintenance. The spherical-type fixed-dome biogas plant easily meets the cooking,
lighting, and power generation needs of a rural family in India. Even the waste from the biogas plant could be utilized as rich, nutritious manure–an added bonus or most rural families in India as they have agriculture as their mainstay.
The success of the pilot plant encouraged TERI to set up five more plants in Dhanawas village. These were closely monitored for 3–5 years to confirm the performance and sustainability of operations. The results were exceptionally good and proved to be a reiteration of the earlier achievement.
Subsequently, another 173 TERI-modelled biogas plants have been installed in 46 villages across seven states in India. Installed in rural areas, the plants are like manna from heaven in that they efficiently meet all the domestic requirements of rural families. In fact, the success rate of the plant is 100%.
The upgraded design of TERI's biogas plant has demonstrated how apt and ideal this technology is for rural India–it is based on renewable energy, has lowrunning cost, is cost-effective, and energy-efficient. The family–size biogas plant (with a capacity of 2 cubic metres) costs 9000 rupees. The other welcome change it has brought in rural living is the job opportunities it has created. That's a world of difference.