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Biogas in Cities – A New Trend?

Anaerobic Digestion of Kitchen and Market Waste in Developing Countries So far, several million conventional biogas plants, using predominantly animal manure as feedstock,have been successfully installed in rural areas of developing countries. However, can anaerobic digestion also be a suitable technology to treat organic household waste in urban and peri-urban areas to alleviate the solid waste crisis in cities of the developing world? Yvonne Vögeli, Chris Zurbrügg

In many cities of developing countries, the most serious environmental and health problems are related to inadequate solid waste management (SWM). Progressing urbanisation and rapid population growth
lead to increasing amounts of waste, thereby also increasing pressure on local authorities responsible for the provision of safe and reliable public services.Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in developing countries is rich in organic material (upto 70 %). However, if this organic fractionis not managed adequately, it causes nuisance for urban dwellers and pollutes theenvironment due to its easily biodegradable nature. Unreliable collection leadsto smelly dumps in neighbourhoods and attracts animals, such as rodents, the typical transmitters of diseases. Lack of treatment or non-engineered and unsafe disposal causes soil, surface water and
groundwater pollution through leachate, and uncontrolled methane emissions contribute to global warming. Consequently, particular attention should be given to the organic fraction of municipal solid waste.
Some treatment options for biodegradable waste, such as aerobic composting or direct animal feeding have been identified in practice and are more or less well-recognised as proven solutions in certain contexts. Nevertheless, there is still scope for improvement by increasing the value and further potential benefits of the treatment steps and generated products. Aside from using worms or larvae to digest the waste
(as described in another article of this Sandec News issue), anaerobic digestion (AD) or biomethanation of organic solid waste is likely to be a promising treatment option. Under anaerobic conditions, bacteria break down the organic matter and produce biogas. This mixture of CO2 and methane (CH 4) can be used as an energy source for cooking, lighting or even to generate electricity, thereby replacing other fuels.





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