Water Hyacinth for Biogas in Cambodia
Hi Francesca here. Last year I attended a Critical Issues Summit investigating the issue of water access at the Prek Toal Floating Village on the Tonle Sap River in rural Cambodia. Here it's not the lack of water, but how water access is changing due to climate change that is the crucial issue. Having experienced unreliable rainfall in Narrabri, I felt a connection to this issue.
The livelihoods of villagers rely on seasonal change for fishing and crops - wet and dry season. However, climate change is altering weather patterns, river flow and local temperatures impacting ecosystem functioning, organism health and the future of the village. With this rapid change, the community is no longer able to rely on the river for income and are forced to adapt, however are restricted by poverty and a lack of access to affordable services - including electricity.
Alongside climate change we also identified another major factor influencing this continuous downward spiral - Water Hyacinth. Water Hyacinth is an aquatic noxious weed which can alter water chemistry through absorbing essential nutrients reducing biodiversity, decreasing oxygen through decomposition of organic matter and slow water flow increasing siltation. This has direct social impacts including fishing difficulty impacting income, vector disease risks and blocked waterways impacting transport as boats are the only form of transportation.
One afternoon I was standing on top of our boat watching the sunset with my friend discussing possible solutions when she randomly yelled “BIODIGESTER!’ Biodigesters create biofuel through anaerobic digestion of organic matter (water hyacinth) with the aid of microorganisms. Along with a free clean biofuel for cooking gas and electricity (which is four times as expensive as the nearest regional center), a nutrient rich fertilizer is produced as a by-product which can be used for crop fertiliser. Utilising Water Hyacinth will increase biodiversity, control weed population, educate villagers, produce free zero carbon energy and gas, ease transportation and provide employment while also supporting the local Non-Governmental Organisation, Osmose, who provides employment, environmental education, training and ecotourism.
Along with 6 other students from 4 countries we pitched our social impact project, Tonle Clean, to a panel of judges and project impact assessors and WON $5000 USD!!! Only after six months we successfully installed our first biodigester and platform at Osmose’s community kitchen.
In the near future, Geni.Energy will also utilise bioenergy technologies - Geni.Bio which will provide electricity generation to the VPP! Bio energy is a great long-term solution to create renewable energy whilst utilising resources such as agricultural wastes and is practical in various environments and situations. A further benefit from bioenergy is its ability to instantly provide energy to the system, providing stability services to the grid.
Keep up-to-date as a Geni.Mate to hear more as Geni.Bio is rolled out.