Portable Biodigester Turns Waste into Clean Fuel for Poor Neighborhood

A novel yet effective new approach on waste management for densely populated kampung (inner-city housings) was introduced in Yogyakarta through the application of portable biodigester. A biodigester or digester is an airtight chamber in which anaerobic digestion of manure, biosolids, food waste, other organic wastewater streams or a combination of these feedstocks occurs. This process produces commodities such as biogas (a blend of methane and carbon dioxide), animal bedding, and fertilizer. The produced biogas can be used as fuel for electricity generators.

Irfan Susilo, the head of Yogyakarta Environmental Agency (BLH), officially launched the operation of portable biodigester facilities among the residents of Kampung Gemblekan Atas Suryatmajan, Danurejan Sub-District, Yogyakarta on Monday, 23 March 2015. This portable biodigester facility for Kampung residents is a collaboration project between BLH Yogyakarta and Policy Advice for Environment and Climate Change (PAKLIM) Programme. This ceremony event was well-attended by local parliament representatives, Camat (head of sub-district), Lurah (head of village), Polsek and Koramil (sub-district police), and community leaders as well as women groups. The facility had been installed since February 2015 and already started to produce methane gas a week after. The collected produced gases were able to be used in the early March 2015. Portable Biodigester is anaerobic waste treatment facility that produced methane gases and liquid fertilizer. Besides aiming to reduce waste, the application of this facility is also to provide renewable and accessible energy source for poor household and support urban farming.

During his remarks, Irfan Susilo, Head of BLH Yogyakarta praised the potential of portable biodigester “This is a very appropriate technology for use in kampung area and is a good alternative for waste management in Yogyakarta which is dominated by dense populated kampung.” He added, “City waste management services does not have the capacity to cover all kampung area due to narrow alleys and limited space for waste facilities. This leads to disposal of waste into the river or surrounding area by the residents”.

“I have discussed this problem with Pak Willi to find some practical solution and this seemed like a promising technology. I will replicate the program in other kampung if the implementation in this kampung Gemblekan Atas is successful” he added. Hans-Willi Hennig, or familiarly called as pak Willi is a German development Advisor assigned by PAKLIM from April 2013 to February 2015 to support BLH Yogyakarta in river basin and waste water management. During the assignment, he assessed various wastewater technologies and their potential for implementation in Yogyakarta. BioMethaGreen, a community-based organic waste management concept first developed by DR. Muhammad Fatah Wiyatna from the University of Pajajaran in Bandung, was among his first priority leading to the implementation of portable biodigester in Yogya.

Similar encouraging statement was also offered by the Head of Commission C DPRD (local parliament) Yogyakarta, Christiana Agustiani, who further added that it is important for the community to manage and maintain the facility in good condition.

After the launching ceremony, the invited guests visited the facility where Moh. Nurhadi, PAKLIM Work Area 1 manager, explained in details about the facility’s components and functions. The facility has the capacity to treat 20 kgs organic waste per day and produce in average 80 litres of methane gases. The organic waste is collected and fed into the chambers installed at the facility. If necessary, some additional water can be added in to make the digestion process runs faster. The waste will then be digested by bacteria which produced methane gas to be collected in another chamber connected to the stove. Ibu Estu Handayani, a resident of the area, who has benefited from the portable facility confirmed that she can use the gas for cooking in average 2 hours a day. “After this facility was installed, our neighbourhood became cleaner and healthy for our children to play in. We also saved some money from cutting down gas (LPG) expenses, and we feel more secure as biogas is very safe”, she said with a big smile on her face.