Turning Trash Into Energy: HomeBiogas Generates Fuel From Organic Waste
Last week, world leaders gathered at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris to commit to reducing carbon emissions. But while industrialized countries tackle the environmental problem (which, many would argue, they caused), developing countries are left to face the consequences, such as polluted air and water – with very few resources to address them.
An Israeli startup called HomeBiogas aims to change that with its newly developed biodigester, which turns organic waste into fertilizers and biofuel for cooking, replacing cooking gas. From six liters of food waste or 15 liters of animal manure, this solar-powered system can produce enough biofuel for at least three hours of cooking.
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The crowds seem to be cheering for this new solution: Earlier this month, the company launched an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign, which reached its goal of $100,000 in less than 24 hours. HomeBiogas has now reached $138,000 in pledges, with 18 more days left to go in the campaign.
“One hour of cooking over firewood is equivalent to smoking 400 cigarettes”
Founded in 2012 by Oshik Efrati, Erez Lanzer and Yair Teller, HomeBiogas aims to educate its users and increase global awareness on the health dangers of cooking with solid fuels such as wood, charcoal and coal. So, if you thought barbecuing is harmless, think again.
“One hour of cooking over firewood is equivalent to smoking 400 cigarettes,” Ami Amir, marketing director for HomeBiogas, tells NoCamels. “If you use our system for a year, it is as if you took a car off the road.”
The company is targeting two groups: Homeowners living in developed countries, who want the product mainly for its environmental value; and underserved communities that have no access to clean energy and garbage removal services. HomeBiogas provides these communities with clean energy that can be used for cooking and in turn encourages them to recycle organic waste for generating gas.
The system generates both clean energy and liquid fertilizer
Currently, one HomeBiogas unit costs $890-$995, after the company has lowered the cost of production from previous models by using aluminum instead of iron to manufacture the system. Still, it’s a hefty investment.
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But according to HomeBiogas, since the system generates both clean energy and liquid fertilizer, consumers will spend less on both. “If you combine both uses, the return on your investment is approximately three years. After that, it is pure profit,” Amir says.
HomeBiogas is now racing to mass produce its device. “If we can have a purchase order for 1,000 units rather than 30, 50 or 100 units, we can significantly reduce the costs of manufacturing and we can then offer our product for a lower price to customers,” he explains. “The main goal of our crowd-funding campaign is to get as many orders as possible for our product, so we can then offer it for a lower price.”
To further lower the cost of the device, the company has partnered with non-profit organizations that provide subsidies. “The 75 units the company installed in the Palestinian Authority and in Bedouin communities across Israel were subsidized by the Peres Center for Peace and the European Union,” Amir says.
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Although small-sized biogas units are available in the market – ARTI, DOME and Sleeve, to name a few – HomeBiogas offers its customers an easy-to-use, family-sized product that can fulfill the needs of a standard home.
With 150 HomeBiogas units already up and running, HomeBiogas could bring about a revolutionary method for generating sustainable household energy and offer a solution to some of the challenges that world leaders are trying to resolve.
Photos and video: HomeBiogas