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Kenya’s Green Success

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In Kenya, Lake Victoria is choking with water hyacinth. The people have been critical of the government for not clearing the weed out of the Lake. The local people currently use it to make furniture and baskets.

In walks a green technology…. a portable unit that can generate biogas and liquid fertilizer from the water hyacinth. It is called an anaerobic digester. .An anaerobic digester is a system that takes an organic waste stream and through the process of anaerobic digestion (meaning without oxygen), microorganisms break-down the waste stream which generates biogas in the process. However, they tested this unit at the Nairobi Dam, Naivasha and Victoria Lakes and were successful in breaking down the water hyacinth.

How is it done? They innoculate the digesters contents with a bacteria obtained from animal intestines. In a continuous digester, organic material is constantly or regularly fed into the digester. The material moves through the digester either mechanically or by the force of the new feed pushing out digested material. Unlike batch-type digesters, continuous digesters produce biogas without the interruption of loading material and unloading effluent. There are three types of continuous digesters: vertical tank systems, horizontal tank or plug-flow systems, and multiple tank systems. The contents are emptied and can produce enough fertilizer for up to 4 towns. What a neat way to get and keep agriculture going in these towns.

It has been asked that if the digester can take care of the hyacinth, won’t they run out? The answer is no as the weed is very abundant throughout East Africa. It is a weed and we all know how weeds grow when close to water.

as the green future unfolds.

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No Responses to “Kenya’s Green Success”

  1. Steve Klaber Says:

    Hurrah! There are also lower-tech methods for making fuel from it. It can be pressed into biomass briquettes, and burned in the new low-pollution stoves that produce charcoal as a byproduct. The charcoal can then be used as biochar or as further fuel.

  2. Ken F Says:

    Quite right. But from a technical perspective I seem to always love the complicated way of doing things – obviously not the best for a country like Kenya…

  3. Theresa Cahill Says:

    Now if they could only come up with something suitable for Lake Mead. Different conditions (mollusks) but still… So here we are in the good ol’ USofA and we’re not as creative?

    Hooray for Kenya! I give us an F.

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