NUST houses first pilot biogas fermenter

Recently, NUST and Namib Poultry Industries (NPI), which forms part of the Namib Mills group of companies, signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at promoting the use of renewable energy through the establishment of a biogas plant.

The project is housed at the University’s Innovation Design Lab (IDL), under the Faculty of Engineering.

NPI produces 40 tons of chicken manure and other chicken by products daily and consequentially, there is a significant amount of waste water. As a solution to contain this wastage, and ultimately lower the carbon dioxide emissions, the idea of using waste to make energy, was born.

“We have partnered with NUST on our pilot anaerobic bio-digester plan. The output material of the biogas production is a high-value fertiliser which will be made available for local small-scale farmers to improve their crop production,” Namib Mills Food Programme Specialist, Suvi Plaatjie elaborated.

Anaerobic digestion is a natural process where plant and animal materials known as biomass, are broken down by micro- organisms.
It is predicted that the full-scale biogas plant will use 40 tons of chicken waste to produce 9,258m3 of biogas and 34 tons of dry fertiliser daily. “The biogas can be turned into electricity, while reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emissions. The biogas plant is also tailor-made for Namibia’s arid climate that will serve as the first ever biogas fermenter in Southern Africa running on chicken manure with a net zero water consumption,” Plaatjie added.

The plant is fed on a daily basis with a specific mixture of chicken manure and other chicken processing by-products such
as blood and waste water in different ratios. “Micro-organisms in the bio-digesters breakdown the organic waste to produce combustible biogas and fertiliser as a by- product in the absence of oxygen,” Thomas Mwatulelo, a NUST alumnus and Researcher in the Department of Mechanical and Marine Engineering, explained.

The process is monitored and sampled every 24 hours through a gas test to scrutinise ammonia levels within the manure since it has a high concentration of Nitrogen. If the Nitrogen levels are too high, the mixture could become poisonous to the microorganisms. The project will further afford NUST students an opportunity to conduct research and to fully understand this innovative project.

Date: 
Monday, February 15, 2021
for Month: 
February, 2021

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