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Michael-Glad Energy: Converting Food Waste into Energy for local Comsumption

MGE focuses on the production of energy from organic waste, using green biogas technology to solve pressing needs related to energy supply.

Photo of RainbowGate Foundation
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In recent times, there has been a major shift in thinking about what was usually considered wastes. Wastes are now seen as a means of solving social and economical problems. A major factor affecting Nigeria’s economical progress is power. And this has been a major discuss in the country. A reliable and sustainable energy source is greatly desired to power the nation’s economy and this need cannot be over emphasized. An important intermittency is associated with power supply to households. However, a solution can be derived from the immediate environment. Food and other organic wastes produced from the market areas in Nigeria constitute health, economic and environmental risks due to unsanitary disposal methods. These market areas are basically surrounded by households, slums, and SME’s that are challenged to maintain the economic and health costs associated with energy poverty. One of their major expenditures is on energy fuels either for cooking or electricity and this amount to about 30% of their monthly income. Michael-Glad sees an opportunity for the construction of a unified biogas plant that will utilize available food and organic waste to produce energy and bio-fertilizers.

Biogas technology is the use of biological process, in the absence of oxygen, for the breakdown of organic matter into biogas and high quality fertilizer. Biogas is a combustible mixture of methane and carbon dioxide. The process also eliminates disease-causing organisms that cause disease in humans and animals. Biogas technology is a “Carbon neutral process” meaning it neither adds nor removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Potentially, this technology is a significant and profitable way of mitigating global climate change.

Biogas technology is carried out using a biological engine known as BIOGAS PLANTS. The Biogas plant keeps and helps maintain conditions for natural biological process to take place optimally to yield the desired results. Biogas plants consist of the Bioreactor, Gas storage vessel and the Utility points. Once the process begins it continues indefinitely as long as wastes are added daily in optimum conditions into the biogas plant as long as integrity maintained. The process is odorless with the daily production of biogas, fertilizer and mineralized water.

Bioreactor: Consist of the inlet pipe where wastes are feed in. The digestion chamber where microorganisms act on the wastes to yield biogas, stabilized organics used as organic fertilizer, which is the solid part of the by-product of the process. And mineralized water, which is the liquid portion. The manhole and outlet pipe are where the organic fertilizer and mineralized water is collected respectively. The gas is collected through a gas hose to the storage vessel.
Gas storage vessel: point where gas is stored. It can be a floating drum, PVC or tarpaulin balloon or a metallic cylindrical tank.
Utility points: Includes engines where biogas is used as a dual fuel to reduce diesel consumption. Engines include that of generators, threshers, crushers, mixers, hullers’ e.t.c. Cookers for cooking, gas mantles for lightening, driers, gas incubators, and Bunsen burners’ e.t.c.

Michael-Glad’s goal is to provide communities value for their organic waste by collecting and converting them into:

Efficient organic fertilizers

Biogas for use as cooking fuel in surrounding communities

Electricity generation

Through this initiative, Michael-Glad will be providing cheaper access to energy and reducing the environmental problems associated with food waste, landfill and the use of chemical fertilizers for agricultural purposes. With the business located in close proximity to major marketplace, it will serve three major audiences: For biogas utilization as cooking fuel, the potential users will be located within  two-three mile radius of the plant site in order to bring it closer to the target market. These audiences will include low income Households, Outdoor small-scale vendors and Local restaurant owners who cook outdoors. Secondly target would be Farmers who currently sell their produce in these markets and urban vegetable farmers. There are about 100,000 potential customers for bio-fertilizers in this segment. In the advanced phase of the business, electricity sale will be targeting shops located in and around the marketplace and other underserved populaces within a 5 miles radius of the plant with average monthly electricity spending between $10 – 100. This represents some 40,000 potential customers.

The material, components and technical knowhow for the implementation is readily available. The utilities for the operation of biogas technology are wastes, which are free, cheap and in abundance. There is no requirement for the addition of chemicals. Income is increased in many folds through energy, fertilizer, health and waste disposal. Maintenance is very cheap like regular painting to avoid surface corrosion of plant.
Taking into consideration of the life span of biogas plants (10-30yrs). The investment is worthwhile and highly profitable. There are no moving parts, meaning there is no wear and tear due to friction.
Nigeria and Africa has an alternative energy source that is ready to be deployed.
With the increasing population and energy demand, the dream of attaining food security and poverty eradication and environmental management in line with the sustainable development goals.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We will design a less expensive biogas digester and run a pilot in one of the markets in Ogun state Nigeria. We will evaluate the Biogas production capacity when compared with quantity and monetary value of existing source of energy such kerosene and firewood.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

We would welcome ideas that would help us build a sustainable design.

Tell us about your work experience:

Our team have great background in entrepreneurship, design and engineering.

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm

How far along is your idea?

  • It was in the works before this challenge – it’s existed for 2-6 months


Join the conversation:

Photo of agromet team

Very nice your low cost solution! 
Also look at our project we would like to share ideas with you:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Michael!

Thank you for telling us about biogas technology. Do you plan for the digesters to be community-owned and/or privately-owned? How have people responded to the idea so far?

Photo of RainbowGate Foundation

Thank you Kate...Because there are so many potential societal benefits from biogas energy systems, we believe it makes sense to align public policy goals with business opportunity. Therefore as an organization, we will consider joint or co-ownership models in order to manage the project better and to achieve our long term goal of providing alternative source of energy to the people. This would allow local people and communities to have an ownership stake in the project and benefit from the financial return the renewable energy project provides. The co-ownership policy will include safeguards to ensure transparency and diversity of owners/shareholders and appropriate consultation with communities. To ensure development is appropriate to local areas, the take up of local shares would be a condition after which a development can proceed, and without which a development cannot. So far the community response has been positive and we are really looking forward to getting the needed funding for the project.