A domestic biodigester, developed for households in the developing world, has attracted $1-million investment to fund further expansion in Cambodia and elsewhere, as Stuart McDill reports.
Recharging a biodigester with livestock manure. The process - designed by social enterprise ATEC and backed an international consortium - turns manure into gas to cook with and organic fertiliser for crops. SOUNDBITE (English) BEN JEFFREYS, ATEC CHIEF EXECUTIVE SAYING: "Using the biodigester is simple. You mix manure with water here which goes into the inlet, then to the main anaerobic chamber. You then produce LPG gas which you can use for cooking and then the organic fertilizer which you can use on your rice, your vegetables and your fruit trees." ATEC say the process has attracted US$ 1 million investment to fund further expansion in Cambodia and elsewhere - giving farmers energy security and saving them money - while cutting the health risks of cooking indoors on a wooden fire. SOUNDBITE (Khmer) FARMER SOK SOPHEAP SAYING: "The biodigester gas doesn't give off smoke and saves a lot of my time compared with using wood. Using wood I had to stay in the kitchen putting wood on the fire until the food is cooked and to avoid overcooking it but with biodigester gas I am not worried about overcooking the rice or food. It also give a lot of other benefits, especially the organic fertilizer which I take from the tank and mix with other dry leaves and lay in my rice field." While most biodigesters are vulnerable to flooding, ATEC says their system is suitable for earthquake and flood-prone areas, can be compacted for global transportation, and is easily assembled on site. They estimate each installation cuts 75 tonnes of greenhouse gases in its 25 lifetime - saving at least US$6,000 in fuel and produce nearly 500 tonnes of fertiliser.