Monday, July 10, 2006

The right kind of development

What are our great minds of our country doing?

Are they trying to develop innovative technologies that really help the country? Well, at least one person is. And he has also won an international award for it!

As of today, around 700 rural homes and 100 urban homes in Maharashtra are using this new biogas plant. Karve says that he has given presentations to institutions and entrepreneurs in Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, after which many have shown interest.

The conventional biogas plant works on human or animal excreta and to produce 250 gms of Methane gas, you require 40 kg of excreta which requires a period of 40 days to decompose. In sharp contrast, Dr Karve's innovative 'New compact biogas technology' method requires one kilo of starch or sugar (in the form of vegetable waste, flour collected from the floor of a flour mill) and just 24 hours to produce 250 gms of Methane gas.


I have been reading about biogas for so long that I always felt why it wasn't being used more extensively. Making the production of biogas sustainable is probably one of the major accomplishment of Dr Karve. But why don't we hear more about this in the national newspapers? This is the kind of news that gives meaning to the 'India Shining' slogan, doesn't it?

This is the kind of activity that the Government of India should be promoting, which apparently it is not. Dr Karve has won the Ashden Award for renewable energy twice, which is amazing!

I suppose there are lot of things that would need to be improved like efficiency in production of the biogas, more fuel efficient burners, etc, etc and I do hope that Dr Karve would keep improving on his technology. Another positive thing is that it looks like his daughter is also following in his footsteps.

The article seems to suggest that biogas is pure methane, which it is not. It is more like 60% methane.

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3 comments:

gaddeswarup said...

I do not much about this but recently I have see some postings in:
http://valluvar.blogspot.com/
http://paddlesweep.blogspot.com/
Sometimes there are news items in
http://www.physorg.com/
Hope that this may help.
Regards,
Swarupnl

gaddeswarup said...

Going through http://scienceblogs.com/ (which I do fairly regularly), I noticed some more:
http://scienceblogs.com/purepedantry/2006/07/is_energy_independence_feasibl.php
http://scienceblogs.com/purepedantry/2006/07/more_on_the_feasibility_of_bio_1.php
Monbiot has also been writing on some aspects.
Swarup

MadHat said...

@swarup: thanks.
I just have a few things to say.
It is quite evident that biogas cannot satisfy our increasing energy needs. But what is important is that they provide a cleaner alternative to chullahs used in the rural areas, which are needless to say extremely polluting and extremely harmful to the women who use it. Secondly, it can supplement the energy requirements of a household, which translates to savings in terms of LPG cost and it is a good way of getting rid of organic waste generated in the homes.

I agree with one of the articles assertion that what is really required is reduction of our energy consumption. Finding alternatives sources of energy just cannot keep up with the rate of energy consumption.

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