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Upskilling Students in the North West in the Art of Anaerobic Digestion

In May 2017 GCX successfully installed 7 home scale anaerobic digesters at the Potchefstroom College of Agriculture in the North West

The aim of this installation is to reduce their reliance on bought energy sources and upskilling students at the college in the skill of Anaerobic Digestion (AD), a skill that is lacking in South Africa.

The technology of anaerobic digestion has been used throughout the world, for the past 30 years. During the process of AD organic waste is converted into two products namely biogas and liquid fertiliser. The biogas consists on average of 65% methane and 35% of carbon dioxide. Because methane is flammable, the biogas can be used in gas stoves, gas lamps and gas geysers among the long list of other applications. The fertiliser obtained from the process can effectively replace conventional fertilisers and also act as a super growth medium enhancing the growth of plants and crops.

homebiogas-anaerobic-digester-how-it-works-diagram

The Potchefstroom College of Agriculture has various kitchens on their campus and contacted GCX ZeroWaste regarding the potential to use food waste from their kitchens in small home scale digesters. These types of anaerobic digesters can take up to 3 kg of food waste per day and generate enough biogas to use a single plate stove for 3 hours. This will provide students with free cooking gas in order to prepare food. The waste again from their cooking activities is fed back into the digester. The aim of these installations, however, was not merely to produce gas for cooking.

By having students successfully manage small scale digesters it allows the students to learn about anaerobic digestion technology and how to operate it. Enabling students to develop skills in anaerobic digestion, an industry where there is a severe lack of skilled labour in South Africa. This installation is a great step in the right direction. As the technology grows in South Africa, solutions like these will ensure success on the operational side of AD in South Africa.

GCX has received very positive feedback from this project and various students have already shown interest in studying the technology further and pursuing a career in Anaerobic Digestion. We have always believed in empowering people and communities to do great things through innovation and we believe this project will make a great impact and have a trickling effect into the AD market.

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