Israeli company invents household ''anaerobic digesters'' that convert organic waste into gas for use by isolated communities in the West Bank. Matthew Stock reports.
Palestinians living in an isolated village in the West Bank recently took delivery of a number of biogas generators to help meet their energy needs. These "anaerobic digesters" supply free, clean energy by gobbling up organic waste. Made by Israeli start-up HomeBioGas, the device turns food leftovers and manure into methane for cooking and lighting. For local residents who rely heavily on foreign donations, the portable reactors have helped them become much more self sufficient. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) NAYEF ZAYID, RESIDENT OF AL-AWJA VILLAGE WHO RECEIVED A REACTOR, SAYING: "This is a very good machine. We have been using it for three months now, the machine provides us with 70-80 percent of the gas that we need for our household." Organic material - such as food scraps - is poured into the machine. When a bacteria is added in powder or liquid form to the mixture of water and waste, a fermentation process produces the methane gas which can then be stored. A rich liquid fertiliser, a byproduct of the process, can also be used on crops; completing what the makers call an 'ecological circle'. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OSHIK EFRATI, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF HOMEBIOGAS, SAYING: "The HomeBioGas system is closing an ecological circle. The waste is going in, the gas is going out to cook new food, from this food the waste will come back. Except the waste, we have the fertilizer. The fertilizer will help us to grow new food, and this is the circle." Around 40 of the digesters have been set up as part of the EU-funded pilot project. HomeBiogas now hopes to persuade governments and aid agencies to buy their digesters for many more impoverished communities. They believe it could save many lives in rural areas across the world, where smoke from cooking on an open fire often causes severe respiratory illness and death. (SOUNDBITE) (English) OSHIK EFRATI, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF HOMEBIOGAS, SAYING: "This system will be available to everyone that needs it in the developing world. It will eliminate the waste, help them to use clean gas and then they don't have to breathe the smoke." HomeBiogas also plans to eventually offer their device as a commercial product to environmentally aware Western consumers.