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India-South Africa Cooperation for Biogas from Organic Waste

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Overview: biodigesters in India

The Indian start-up Carbon Masters Ltd. has been successfully introducing small to medium scale bio-digesters to the Indian market. These bio-digesters are built using reused shipping containers to produce bio-methane and organic fertilisers from organic waste. The products are branded and sold as Carbonlites.[1]

CNG for cooking and powering trucks


Rotting waste in landfills can be a source of air pollution, which poses a danger to human health, while also emitting climate forcing methane.

Carbonlites bio-cng is a climate friendly fuel with applications for displacing LPG for commercial cooking as well as powering trucks. Carbonlites organic fertilisers provide the farming sector with an environmentally friendly and affordable fertiliser, that can help farmers reduce their use of chemical fertilisers, further saving CO2 emissions. The multiple benefits of this approach have been so remarkable that their Carbonlites initiative was awarded the “Better Together Award” by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU) in 2019.[2]

Carbonlites offers a solution, which not only produces bio-methane that can be bottled or piped to end-users but also an organic fertiliser, thereby displacing chemical fertilisers. Hence, Carbon Masters was invited to do a feasibility study of transferring their bio-methane plants to the African continent. First calculations of that study focusing on landfills in Pretoria reveal that there is a business case to transfer Carbonlites bio-methane technology to South Africa.[3]

Feasibility study: Waste management in South Africa

The problems of waste management in Pretoria are very similar to those in India, where the default position of sending this waste to landfills allied with the lack of processing capability of the organic waste is not sustainable. In addition, as LPG and fertiliser prices are higher in South Africa than in India and with comparable labor costs between the two countries, and even allowing for higher capital costs for imported purification and bottling equipment, solving the waste problem this way has an attractive return on the investment. Since visiting South Africa Carbon Masters are now also in discussions with potential clients in both Cameroon and Botswana about bringing their pop-up biogas plants to these countries.[4]

South-South exchange: bringing technology from South Asia to Africa

Carbonlites has already been implemented in many cities in India with production capacities ranging from 300kg to 50 tons per day in bio-CNG and organic manure. So, an idea born in India could soon be popping up across Africa saving both GHG emissions, improving air quality and creating local employment.


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