On October 5, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C. The headline was that the worst predicted effects of climate change are already beginning to happen and that globally, we have 12 years to achieve “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities.
Today marks World Energy Day, held annually since 2012 to raise awareness of the importance of conservation and rational use of energy and to promote the sustainability of energy. Sustainability must allow people to maintain and improve their quality of life whilst reducing their impact on the environment. Historically, as people’s quality of life improves, their impact on the environment increases. The average household in a country with very high human development will emit 30 times more harmful emissions than the average household in a country with low human development. Farmers, producers and others globally must be allowed access to the benefits of technology.
As the world transitions away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources, it is crucial that people in developing countries have the opportunity to benefit and improve their lives. Sistema.bio’s biodigestors transform a waste product into useable, clean energy. The biogas systems installed by Sistema.bio has mitigated 100,000 tons of CO2. The systems have the additional benefit of providing energy independence, meaning biodigester owners in rural locations which often have unreliable energy supplies can guarantee constant access to a sustainable source of energy.
Heating is one of the main uses of energy on farms. As temperatures drop in the winter nights, farmers need to provide their piglets with heat to keep them alive. Over the past 4 months, Sistema.bio has been developing a forced air heater which can be used to heat pigs overnight. The project is run in partnership with the charity Engineers Without Borders UK, who have provided Sistma.bio with 2 engineers to work on the project. Myself – a mechanical engineer – and Andreas – a chemical engineering student – have worked closely with the technicians in San Martin Texmelucan.
The local knowledge which the technicians have regarding how farmers in Mexico currently operate has allowed us to design a product which will be easy to use and not change their day-to-day work. In addition, the experience of the technicians with biodigestors helped us overcome engineering challenge, such as the varying pressure of the biogas supply.
The heater is designed to use minimal energy, whilst providing a constant, regulated temperature. The heater is controlled using a thermostat which is set to the required temperature and has safety switches to ensure that biogas will not be blown into the pigs’ space.
The first working heater has now been installed in a farm in Tlaxcala, Mexico and others will be installed over the coming weeks. The heater can be used to heat a small nursery, or entire outbuilding. Further uses in future could be to heat houses or to dry grains and fruits. Alongside burners, cookstoves, and boilers, these could allow biodigestor owners to meet the majority of their energy needs using renewable energy. By developing a range of products to run on biogas, Sistema.bio is ensuring that people in Mexico and beyond can improve their quality of life, whilst reducing their environmental impact.
Sistem.bio’s first 8 years has it seen it grow to provide renewable energy to farmers in Mexico, Colombia, Nicaragua, India, and Kenya. Over the next 12 years, Sistema.bio can continue to play its part in the rapid transition required in energy to tackle climate change.[us_single_image image=”2703″]
Steffan studied aeronautical engineering at university before he worked with Airbus in London designing 3D printed parts for satellites. Following that, he returned to his home city of Cardiff to work on surgical devices for Olympus, before volunteering with Sistema.bio in Mexico.
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