South Africa can solve power crisis with cow dung: researcher

27 January 2016 - 11:45 By Jeanette Chabalala
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

A young researcher at the University of Free State (UFS) has dedicated her life to finding solutions to the county's electricity crisis using an unusual energy source - cow dung.

Born and bred in Vereeniging in Gauteng, Reitumetse Molaoa said her main focus was finding ways to generate electricity using biogas produced by food waste and cow dung.

She is a postgraduate student and a researcher at the UFS department of microbial, biochemical and food biotechnology.

Biogas can be used for cooking, heating, lighting, and powering generators and turbines.

"Biogas is produced in a digester, an oxygen-free space in which bacteria break down or digest organic material fed into the system. This process naturally produces biogas, which is mainly a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide," she told News24. 

The 22-year-old expressed confidence in her project, and said through her efforts load shedding might become a thing of the past. 

"A number of industries in the country, including some farmers, are already enjoying this technology, using it to generate heat and power machines," she said. 

Biogas produces little pollution and fewer greenhouse gases than conventional energy sources, she said.

"Any organic material can be used to make biogas, so it is an excellent way to dispose of agricultural waste, cow dung, and sewage sludge. The remaining liquid effluent can fertilise crops, as it is high in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

"I want to save the country and to bring about solutions to the energy crises. Biogas is a viable option to fossil fuels because it is renewable, sustainable, and cost effective."

Source: News24

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