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Transforming Slaughterhouse to Powerhouse - A Biofuel Revolution

05.11.2015

Over the past few years, Uganda (like many nations in East Africa) has made huge strides in its attempts at expanding its agricultural processing facilities. Part of a wider strategy of economic growth and diversification, the idea is to boost the value of existing farmland by helping farmers to store, package, and ship en masse. Yet while this gambit has worked wonders for GDP and job creation, it’s also come with a fair amount of ecological backlash as these new facilities guzzle down power and spew out noxious byproducts into a nation without the facilities to handle them.

In the Ugandan capital of Kampala, the prodigiously productive Kampala City Abattoir, the nation’s largest slaughterhouse, has become a particularly contentious source of foul pollution. A massive facility in the Port Bell region at the city’s southeastern fringe, the abattoir runs 24 hours a day, relying on heavy diesel generators up to half of the time to compensate for the city’s frequent rolling blackouts. And every day they manage to dismember and package up to 700 heads of cattle, 300 chickens, and 200 sheep and goats. But that process produces gobs of blood, hair, skin, and fecal matter as waste, which until recently was just dumped into Lake Victoria’s Murchison Bay, messing with the local ecology and creating a putrid smell that hovered over the entire neighborhood to the chagrin of locals and city planners alike.

Yet rather than just despair or fall into the NIMBY pattern of trying to shutter this otherwise developmentally valuable industry, a local researcher has found a way of harnessing the abattoir’s byproducts, diverting them from dump sites and turning them into a source of self-sustaining and clean power.

Dr. Joseph Kyambadde, head of the local Makerere Unversity’s Department of Biochemistry and Sports Science, outlined his innovative project last month at a local round-table on agricultural waste recycling and sustainability. A few years ago, he theorized that most of the organic waste in the abattoir could be stored and then incinerated into biogases like methane—30 to 40 percent cleaner and more efficient than butane or propane—which could in turn be used to displace the fossil fuels that power the slaughterhouse. With a grant from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), which funds bio-innovation across East Africa, (especially in the agricultural industry), he slowly developed systems to make his vision a reality with the cooperation of the abattoir’s owners.

And he succeeded. As of last month, Kyambadde and the abattoir had managed to integrate recycling systems into the slaughter process, creating between 10 and 25 cubic meters of gas per day to power security lights, freezers, and refrigerators, as well as producing fertilizer-ready byproducts. The recycling process itself relies on solar panels to heat water in biomaterial digesters, converting organic material into methane. At present, the gas has cut diesel bills by 90 percent per month and reduced their overall monthly energy expenses by up to $2,800—a fair sum in the local economy. And that’s with just 40 percent of the facility hooked up to the system. Kyambadde and others believe they can soon scale up to 100 percent integration, taking the slaughterhouse off the grid and even producing excess energy that they can sell off for profit. 

Article cited from: http://goo.gl/TIUf3N

 

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