Ashden Winners / Clean, affordable cooking

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Award supported by The Waterloo Foundation
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Small farmers grow most of the world’s food, and agricultural systems have a huge impact on climate change. has created an innovative, affordable biogas system that turns animal waste into the cleanest of cooking fuels and produces a planet-friendly super fertiliser.

The product’s simple, modular design makes it easy to add more capacity if needed, and the option to pay in instalments makes it available to more farmers. Buyers in Latin America, Africa and Asia no longer have to cook using expensive and polluting wood fuel or fossil fuels, reducing deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.

More than 1.5m trees saved.

More than 7,000 digesters installed.

More than 100,000 tons of CO2e mitigated

"As a family we like to cook with biogas as it’s organic, it’s more economical and it helps us to care for the environment."

Antonio Sanchez Perez, Farmer, Tlaxcala, Mexico

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Around the globe, small farmers face similar challenges – including life with an inconsistent energy supply and a weak or missing electricity grid. This leaves them relying on fossil fuels for cooking, heating and lighting.

Farmers can spend much of their income on charcoal, liquid petroleum gas and wood to power their homes and businesses. They also risk fines from environment agencies if they do not dispose of animal waste correctly – or flies and illness if it stays on or near their property.

Farmers can spend much of their income on charcoal, liquid petroleum gas and wood to power their homes and businesses. They also risk fines from environment agencies if they do not dispose of animal waste correctly – or flies and illness if it stays on or near their property. solves these challenges with a prefabricated modular biodigester package. Easy to install and use, their patented high efficiency biodigesters receive organic waste such as animal dung and transform it into renewable biogas to use for cooking and hot water. The system, which includes a range of biogas appliances and connections, also creates a useful bi-product of powerful organic fertiliser.

How does the digester work? Manure is added with water to a feeder tank. This is stirred and then released into the digester. There is no pumping or mechanics involved as waste moves through gravity down a pipe into a reactor bag. Bacteria breaks down the waste to create methane, water and bio-fertiliser slurry. The methane and water are released through the gas line and the bio-fertiliser is realised through the outlet into the bio-fertiliser tank. The gas is filtered for hydrogen sulphide and water is condensed, and then piped directly into the kitchen for cooking.

The biogas created in the digester is piped directly into the kitchen, where enough gas is produced for an average family to cook all of their meals from the waste of just one cow or a couple of pigs. Biogas burns with a clean flame, only producing carbon dioxide and water residue. This means that families can cook in a smoke-free environment.

Around the world, more people are killed by illnesses related to indoor air pollution than AIDS and Malaria put together – with polluting cookstoves and open cooking fires a major danger. Biogas provides a much healthier and more affordable cooking fuel.

Customers have seen an increase in plant yield thanks to their new fertiliser, which means they can feed more animals. Before the Sistema biodigester is installed, farmers and their families live with the smell and flies associated with having piles of manure on their farms, now with the digester, they can live in a healthier, more sustainable environment. customers can pay for their digester in monthly instalments, at a cost which is roughly the same as what they were spending of wood or liquid petroleum gas. This means that the cost of the digester is paid off in less than a year, making it a great investment for small farmers.

When first started marketing their product to customers they did not focus on the wider environmental benefits. However, they have discovered that farmers are very interested in the long-term sustainability of their farms. They feel that by protecting the natural environment, reducing deforestation, and reducing odours and flies, they are making the farming lifestyle more attractive to their children. A clear and growing concern about the effects of climate change, especially from farmers who see the effects up close every day, drives’s sales.

Most of their sales and technical staff are farmers or from a farming background – this gives them valuable insights and empathy for the culture and needs of their customers. And it helps ensure their product and finance systems are suitable for customers.

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