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We Have Built a Biogas Plant in Kivumu
Friday, 27 April 2012 Written by fra Ivica Perić

A Biogas Plant in KivumuAnother project has been successfully completed! We have just managed to finish the construction of a biogas mini-plant and have successfully put it into operation. Although we often joke about making something good out of nothing or – allow me to be blunt – “making a pie out of shit,” we are talking about a serious project which will save us a great deal, in addition to being extremely beneficial for the preservation of nature and the environment.

Biogas is a gaseous fuel which is produced during the process of decomposition or fermentation of organic matter - including manure, sewage sludge, communal waste or any other biodegradable waste.

To get biogas we use the manure from our cows, but also the “waste” from the twelve toilets we have built in the school compound. All that is linked to a big 35-cubic-metre cistern buried in the ground, so all waste is collected there and turned into gas. The gas which is produced in this manner is then transferred to our school kitchen where we use it as fuel for everyday cooking of around 350 meals for our students and school staff.

At the moment, we use the biogas for everyday cooking in two large cauldrons. And it brings us significant savings!

It all began several months ago when we dug a big hole in the ground on the spot where the plant is now, a hole big enough to fit more than one tank: a 35-cubic-metre cistern and two gas storage tanks.

For a cistern of this size, in order to keep the process running smoothly and without interruption, we have to collect 60 kilograms of hard waste and 200 litres of water every day. The produced gas is then stored in the storage chamber, or tank, which is intended for that purpose, and then continues its way towards our kitchen.

Let me explain. There are three cauldrons in our kitchen. As I mentioned, around 350 meals are prepared in them every day. Up until now, everything was cooked using firewood, so we used to spend as much as 1,000 euros per year just for firewood. Now that we’ve started using biogas, I can say with certainty that our firewood costs will be reduced by two thirds, which means that we are going to save (for us) huge amounts of money.

Last year, when I wrote about how we planned to begin with the construction of a biogas plant, a friend of mine told me that – judging by the speed the things were going now – he wouldn’t be surprised if, in a year or two, he heard that I had built a hydroelectric power plant in Kivumu.

He really made me laugh. We have lots of ideas about how to improve the lives of people in our parish. And we are slowly bringing those ideas to realization. We have the benefit of never being alone. The construction of the cistern and all the technicalities necessary for the production of biogas were helped through donations by Franziskaner Mission from Dortmund - our good friends who have been, for many years, selflessly helping us.

Translated by Branimir Mlakić
Edited by: Valerie Kae Ken

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