Using cow dung as a fuel source in India - Cafeqa

Using cow dung as a fuel source in India


In her work as a fuel converter, Rukmini Kumbhar gathers cow manure

Roughly fifty kilograms (eight stone) of fresh cow manure is collected daily by Rukmini Baburao Kumbhar using just her bare hands.

A member of her spiritual community, she helps maintain a modest ashram (religious retreat) in a rural area of Maharashtra, a state in northwestern India.


Gathering cow manure is not mainly about trying to maintain cleanliness. Alternatively, biomethane may be produced from cow manure.

“The price of fuel has skyrocketed. An excellent choice was biogas. Space and cows were the only need. With both, we had both, Ms. Kumbhar says.


Once gathered, the cow manure is combined with water and placed in the bioreactor, where it generates sufficient methane to fuel the ashram’s cooking.

After its installation in March, Ms. Kumbhar no longer has to purchase 20 liters of natural gas monthly.

Even though it requires picking up cow manure, she is OK with it.

Agriculture is the primary source of income for the majority of rural Indians. According to her, handling cow manure is not an issue.

At least initially, some of her visitors aren’t as enthused.

We have had city ladies who are sickened by the scent of cow manure or who were forced to touch it while they were with us. But we aren’t going to make them. After a while, they adjust and begin to pitch in. The cows are high-quality, so there’s no odor from their manure, she explains.

Data from the government’s policy agency NITI Aayog shows that Indian cattle create around three million tons of cow excrement every day.

The government is pushing for more methane production from that manure and other agricultural waste.

Anaerobic digestion is the mechanism that biogas plants use to accomplish this. It entails putting trash into sealed tanks where friendly microorganisms break down the organic materials.

Methane (around 60%) and carbon dioxide are the main gases produced by the process.

Currently, India must import over half of its natural gas requirements; this is causing money to leave the country, which the government would want to be used domestically. There will be no slowdown in India’s energy consumption as the country’s economy continues to expand.

Gas companies are required by law to add 1% biomethane to natural gas beginning in 2025, with that percentage increasing to 5% by 2028 in an effort to stimulate the biogas sector.

Since biogas involves reusing and recycling previously burned stubble, it has the dual benefit of lowering India’s gas imports and air pollution.

Furthermore, the byproducts of the bioreactor may be used as fertilizer.

The construction of ever-larger bioreactors is being subsidized by both the federal and state governments.

Commercial facilities compress gas to make it more transportable or suitable for use as a vehicle fuel.

Lehragaga, in the Indian state of Punjab, is home to the largest compressed biogas (CBG) facility in Asia.

Once operational in late 2022, it will be able to convert 300 metric tons of paddy straw into 33 metric tons of biogas daily

There is currently insufficient demand for the fuel, limiting production to eight tons per day.

Its remote position, away from main highways and towns, is a contributing factor.

All About Haibowal Dairy Ludhiana, Punjab, is home to a biogas plant.All About Haibowal Dairy
A separate issue arises due to the location in Ludhiana, Punjab, where cow manure is a scourge; nonetheless, the biogas plant there can handle 225 tons of dung each day. The city and its environs are home to some 6,000 cows, making it a major hub for dairy production. Unfortunately, many dairy owners have been polluting rivers by simply disposing of their excrement in the public sewers.

A huge biogas reactor at the Haibowal Dairy Complex can handle 225 metric tons of manure every day, and without it, things would likely be far worse.

Despite its 2004 construction, the biogas factory is set to more than double its production in response to rising demand.

The local collection of cow manure is Rajiv Kumar’s responsibility. In the beginning, he recalls, farmers did not really get his need for the garbage.

Getting them to sell us cow manure was a challenge. In the past, they regarded us suspiciously. He argues that it’s a win-win scenario for them since their garbage has turned into a source of cash without any effort on their part.

Although challenging, the job is worthwhile for the neighborhood

“This cow dung is a combination of cows and buffalos, so it smells terrible. However, in the end, we all need money to survive.”

This biogas factory in Hyderabad is one of many that have recently sprung up in India.
Among those who have recognized the potential of biogas, Baljit Singh is among them.

He was born into a Punjabi family that farmed wheat and rice. An opportunity presented itself to him when he saw the construction of the biogas plants. First, Mr. Singh would go around selling the plant the stubble that was leftover from his family’s crop.

After that, he went about attempting to get other farmers to part with their husks.

“The trip was far from smooth. Burning the husk was the favored method for farmers because to the great pressure to prepare the ground for the following planting season. I persuaded them that it’s a chance for them to make money,” he says.

However, a sizable enterprise has emerged from it. Mr. Singh now employs around 200 people to collect agricultural debris from 10 different communities.

“Working here is physically demanding. In order to persuade the farmers to sell me their agricultural leftovers, I visit the majority of the villages before harvest starts. Because it must be dry, we must move swiftly.

In order for the biogas plant to digest the residues efficiently, they are chopped or shredded to a specified size. We pay close attention to the moisture content and pollutants during collecting.

Kiran Kumar Kudaravalli of the non-profit organization SKG Sangha, which focuses on renewable energy, believes that biogas is challenging to implement in urban settings due to space constraints and the associated odor.

People in less affluent rural regions would be turned off by the price.

The fuel is sourced from freely accessible agricultural or forest land. Thus, they choose not to pay a premium for fuel, and Mr. Kudaravalli argues that it is unfair to tax them for the installation of biogas facilities.

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