Why ‘ gas- from-kitchen-waste’ hasn’t caught on

Was surprised to learn that banks don’t give  loan for installing bio-gas units that produce cooking gas from household units.  The govt.  gives subsidy for those going in for it. There hasn’t been much demand, it appears. This doesn’t  mean there is lack of interest on the the part of prospective users and business promoters.   My  post here  in 2007 ,  on ARTI household biogas kit,  still stays  on the top-ten list of most-read posts in this blog.

Why, then,  hasn’t this  home-grown alternative to LPG caught on in the market ? A feedback from some of those who connected with ARTI ( Appropriate Rural Technology Institute) – I know of two in Mysore – indicate that the institute doesn’t have resources to step out of  Pune  to set up demo plants and market their product  in other towns .  They would rather want interested entrepreneurs to come to Pune to see how their units work. Not very market-friendly, are they.   I believ Pune municipal corporation has set up a demonstration biogas plant that is fed on waste from the office canteen.  About 3,000 households have gone in for ARTI gas plant (costing two years back Rs.10,000  or so).

Meanwhile, in Kanyakumari, at Vivekananda Kendra , they have  developed a model ,  Shakthi-Surabhi ,  and they have installed till date nearly 2,500 units in various part of the country.  The project supervisor Mr V Muneeswarn told The Hindu that orders for units, running into hundreds,  are pending in their order book .  The use of kitchen-waste gas plant is largely limited  to  green enthusiasts in isolated pockets.  There is a case for the Kanyakumari-based  Kendra  to develop a countrywide network of production/marketing agencies in partnership with local entrepreneurs.

A Shakthi-surabhi gas unit can be installed  at one’s  backyard or terrace .  It feeds on left-over food, veg. waste, flour-mill waste, non-edible oilseed cake  and any other  biodegradeable waste generated in backyard gardens. Five kg of waste produces a cubic metre of gas (0.43 kg LPG). The residue makes good manure.  A win-win  thing,  in a lab situation.  If this kitchen-waste concept can be sold to  architects and real-estate developers,  it can be factored into house construction projects.

Someone in my town (Mysore) who got in touch Pune lost interest in the project basically because they couldn’t spare or wouldn’t  send their technicians to Mysore to set up a demonstration plant in town. Other factors that inhibited him were: 1)  The unit requires  maintenance involving cleaning the mess in the form of slurry; and few housewives are inclined to take on this headache.  Help on hire for cleaning the gas plant is an issue. 2) Absence of  trained maintenance  staff to fix faults  and non- availability of  spare-parts such as inlet waste feed pipe, gas holder, water jacket outlet pipe etc. 3) No-loan policy adopted by banks doesn’t help. Subsidy offered by govt. needs to be clubbed with loan availability.

Contact details for Shakthi-surabhi at Vivekananda Kendra ;  Mr V Muneeswaran,  cell. 9486942769  ; e-mail  –  vknardep@gmail.com

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