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Renew | December 2016

Biogas Tank at Canadian International School

The Canadian International School (CIS) have a biogas plant set-up on campus by students. It took the initiative of two grade 10 students in 2011 to research, purchase, install and start-up a biogas plant to find a way to re-use some of the food waste from the school cafeteria. Despite early impediments, it was a successful venture and for nearly two years, the biogas plant, produced enough fuel to supply the entire staff with tea and coffee on a daily basis. This was affectionately called ´Bio Tea´ and ´Bio Coffee´. The biogas generated was also used to boil potatoes and such vegetables on a regular basis.

In 2013, the school purchased a new plant with a water jacket design and for the past 18 months the new plant has been running successfully. As far as we know, CIS is the only school in South India with a biogas plant of this type, operating. Today the plant serves as a demonstration unit and students regularly visit the plant to learn the process of anaerobic bio-digestion.

It takes up to two-three kgs of food waste per day and generates gas for about one hour of cooking on a single burner, daily.

CIS has always considered it is it´s role to educate students about conserving the environment and to empower them to make a change for a better tomorrow. POWER TODAY spoke to Shweta Sastri, Executive Director - Canadian International School about the same.

What is the capacity and scale of the biomass plant on your premises? What was the reason for choosing biomass?
The biogas tank we have in our premises actually helps provide gas to the school´s cafeteria.

CIS has always been informed about its role to educate students about conserving the environment and to empower them to make a change for a better tomorrow.

It took the initiative of two grade 10 students in 2011 to research, purchase, install and start-up a biogas plant to find a way to re-use some of the food waste from the school cafeteria. This biogas plant, produced enough fuel to supply the entire staff with tea and coffee on a daily basis. This was affectionately called ´Bio Tea´ and ´Bio Coffee´. The biogas generated was also used to boil potatoes and such vegetables on a regular basis.

Kindly elaborate on the process involved in installing and commissioning the plant. What were the major challenges?
One of the biggest challenges we faced was in the year 2013, the lid of the plant cracked and the unit set up by the students had to be discarded. The lesson was learnt and the school decided to purchase a new plant, using a different design, known as water jacket. For the past 18 months the new plant has been running successfully and provides gas to a single burner in our cafeteria.

What is the return on investment - monetary and otherwise - generated through this plant, i.e. benefits received v/s capital cost incurred?
We were not looking at commercialisation of the biogas plant, ever since its inception. Our approach towards it was just an extension to the initiative started by our students. We wanted to translate the textual learning to a working piece, which would be a testimony to our motive of conserving the environment and using renewable energy. Today the plant serves as a demonstration unit and students regularly visit the plant to learn the process of anaerobic bio-digestion.

It takes up to two-three kgs of food waste per day and generates gas for about one hour of cooking on a single burner, daily. We are proud of being a 100 per cent food waste recycling school. The school has also got students involved in starting an organic garden, in cooperation with Anadana Farms. We have started producing vegetables such as tomatoes and brinjals (aubergines) as our first crops. We use only ´organic´ methods and most of the garden work is done by our students.

What according to you is the potential of this field in India? What kind of evolution is needed to push this green sector forward?
Biogas is an eco-friendly approach towards the massive energy consumption the world is facing. It´s an organic way to generate heat and electricity from the waste, which results in the production of biogas.

We need to create more awareness on the benefits of using renewable energy. Efforts from the government to promote the cause are appreciable. However, we need more investments and funds to support it. We still have a long way to go to increase its reach.

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