In rural Vietnam and many other areas of Asia, people still cook with fossil fuels, such as bottled gas. Read this article to find out how Leister is supporting an international research team in its search for a more environmentally friendly alternative.
Vietnam enchants with dense rainforests, green rice terraces, and unique sites that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage. We think of the famous Halong Bay and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.
Biogas plants for self-sufficiency in rural areas
For decades, people in rural areas in Asia, Africa, and South America have been using bottled gas or firewood for cooking. This is also the case here in Vietnam. Different biogas plants offer an environmentally friendly alternative. The biogas is usually produced from pig manure in a microbial fermentation process. This requires a constant pig population of five adult animals to produce enough biogas for the daily cooking needs of a farm household.
An international research team now wanted to find out whether biomass or a mixture of biomass and pig manure could be used to generate biogas as an alternative. The goal was to develop a low-cost biogas fermenter using biomass from rice straw waste and water hyacinth as feedstock. Both are available in virtually unlimited supply in Vietnam as well as in many other parts of Asia.
Years of international research and funding
Already in 2013 and 2014, extensive laboratory experiments were conducted under the supervision of leading scientists from Aarhus University (Denmark) and Can Tho University (Vietnam). These experiments clearly showed that rice straw and water hyacinth are excellent substrates for biogas production. In addition, the researchers found that the biogas yield was about 50% higher when the biomass was used in co-digestion with pig manure. (Co-digestion is the joint fermentation of solid biogenic waste with liquid substrates such as sewage sludge or manure).
Fermenter welded from geomembrane
Farm-scale trials pursued the development of a long-lasting, low-cost biogas plant as an alternative to traditional brick domes.
The new solution should allow easy and cheap installation of the fermentation equipment by farmers and should not require expensive construction. For this purpose, a fermenter with an inlet and outlet nozzle was formed from a conventional plastic geomembrane (HDPE), in which the bio substrate ferments under solar radiation. The resulting biogas reaches another reservoir (gas storage) via a pipeline. From there it is then used for cooking. When it came to airtight welding of the geomembrane, the research team needed expert knowledge of plastic welding from Leister.
Leister automatic welding machine TWINNY is best suited for this job
The project research team first contacted Leister's Danish sales and service partner Bergstrom Plastteknik A/S.
This was also an essential criterion in this project. Jan Bentzen, Associate Professor from Aarhus University is pleased with the success: "Thanks to the competent cooperation with Leister, we quickly found the best solution for welding the Biogas reactors made from HDPE in a high-quality and above all airtight manner."
Lots of potential for the construction of small biogas plants in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta
Now that the project has been scientifically proven to work, nothing stands in the way of building small-scale biogas plants from HDPE geomembranes in rice-growing regions. In Vietnam's Mekong Delta alone, there is currently estimated to be the potential for 17,000 agricultural biogas plants. The investment cost is about 400-450 USD and the fermenter has a lifetime of at least ten years.
Environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative
Such biogas plants significantly reduce the demand for fossil fuels. They are a cost-efficient, environmentally friendly, and sustainable alternative to bottled gas.
The new biogas fermenters are also a good option in economic terms. This is because they have to be installed and maintained, which has a positive impact on the order situation of small companies as well as creating new workplaces.
The living standards of the rural population also rise. Because it is obvious that the self-produced biogas saves costs in cooking and at the same time protects the environment.
Gregor Studer, Manager Marketing Services, Leister Switzerland
Silke Landtwing, Manager of Corporate Communications, Leister Switzerland
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