Globally, 3.5 million tonnes of garbage are produced every day by 7.8 billion population. In India, about 0.1 million tonnes of garbage are produced alone.
But the question arises that where all these trashes would go as we continue to produce waste.
A Bhopal-based startup, Shaktistellar, provided a sustainable living solution by developing Portable Biogas Units. Basically, these units or say digestors transform kitchen waste into cooking gas by disposing of waste safely, properly, and hygienically. Ultimately, half of the LPG needs to get reduced by this.
Shaktistellar was founded by Ankit Roy and Praveen Modi. Ankit said, “An average Indian family consumes one cylinder a month, which is 12 in a year. According to government provisions, only 6 cylinders are provided at a subsidized price of Rs 400, the other 6 months, it costs Rs 700-800. If a portable biogas unit is installed in homes, families will spend 2400 for the first 6 months on LPG and use biogas, to power the stove, for the next six months. This way, they can save an average of Rs 4800.”
The story behind the solution
In 2012, Ankit passed out from National Institute of Technology (Bhopal) and began working with a firm in Mumbai. He was involved in the power sector very closely and this job helped him to explore sustainable energy solutions for homes.
Then he moved back to Bhopal in 2016 started the process of installing a solar panel on his rooftop. However, this news fallen in the ears of the Electricity Board of Madhya Pradesh, they visited his place and asked him to hold up the project.
With a smile, Ankit informed, “They were not happy to see what I was doing and asked me to uninstall the grid from my roof because it was against the law. But I was familiar with rules and regulations pertaining to renewable energy, so I wrote a letter to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, which, in turn, led to a series of amendments in Madhya Pradesh’s policy for the same. This victory encouraged me to start a company that offers an all-around sustainable living solution.”
The startup was established in 2017 and was bootstrapped in the beginning. Later, in 2019, they received a grant from Scotland India Impact Link for Social Enterprise.
Now Shaktistellar offers the following facilities
- Portable biogas digestor
- Solar rooftop installation
- E-vehicle conversions
- Rainwater harvesting solutions.
Ankit said, “Currently, we cater to places in and around Bhopal that are accessible by road. The raw materials are carried in a truck that we rent, and the installation is done by myself and my team.”
The biogas units can be installed in the terrace, backyard, or even in the balcony but it needs 1.2 sq. metre to be installed.
It has a digestion tank which comes with two different capacity I.e. 3 litres, costs around Rs 40k and 5 litres, costs around Rs 51k.
Firstly, kitchen wastes such as vegetables and fruit peels, leftover foods, and more are dumped into the tank or digester.
To ensure the waste decomposes quickly, digester crunches all the waste that is dumped. The motor will stop immediately if there are any hard metal or stones. Then, those particles must be taken out manually from between the blades.
From waste to useful gas
Cow dung is required for this to obtain the right bacteria to digest the waste. But this is added only first time to activate anaerobic decomposition. Then, only waste is to be dumped into the tank. Fresh cow dung is hardly available in urban India. So, dry cow dung is mixed with water to make a paste and use it as a starter. The dry dung is attained from a plant that manufactures briquettes in Bhopal.
Decomposition takes place within 10 to 15 days, but this depends on climate too. For example, it takes 10 days to decompose in summer whereas it may take even longer than 15 days to decompose in winter. When the slurry (mushy waste) settles down at the bottom of the chamber, then methane gas rises within it.
There is a fiber dome placed above the digestion chamber through which methane gas rises. An outlet is connected to the gas stove in the kitchen. So, the chamber exerts pressure over the gas and pushes it through that outlet. The remaining slurry in the digester tank will continue to decompose. Or else it can be used as a manure for plants.
Duration of using biogas unit
The unit is equipped with a Gas Level Indicator that indicates the quantity. Usually, 5 litre tanks provide 5 hours continuous gas supply whereas 3 litre tanks provide 2.5 hours run. A resident of Mumbai named Kailash Narayan Nayak has also installed a 3 litre Shaktistellar biogas unit in his house and found it useful and he is glad about its performance.
He said, “For the last 6 -7 months, my family and I have been using the biogas stove. Though the flame is not too strong, it works just perfectly to make rice, roti, sabzi, and other basic food items. It has helped us save money. And the environment from a lot of waste. Apart from the gas, I also use the slurry as manure for my garden.”
Shaktistellar biogas unit fits for home users as well as industry. A commercial hostel, Samrat Ashok Technological Institute, and an army regiment hostel are among the clients of Shaktistellar. To enhance and expand their business to other cities, Ankit and his team are planning for a Series A funding.