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Thursday, October 1st, 2020

Biogas Plant at SMV Government School in Thiruvananthapuram

*Pallavi Chinya

Sree Moola Vilasom (SMV) Government Model Higher Secondary School is one of the oldest schools in Thiruvananthapuram city. Established by Swathi Thirunal Maharaja of the Travancore Kingdom in 1836. Today this school is imparting education to more than 3000 children studying from 5th standard to plus two. The children of this school have been provided with an opportunity to learn beyond what is taught from the text books. They are getting one of the important civic lessons i.e. solid waste management. Under the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project (KSUDP), the Thiruvanathapuram city corporation set up a Biogas plant with an approximate cost of Rs3.85 lakh on the school premises in 2009. Initially it was operated by an agency but since 2011 the school authorities with the active participation of staff comprising nearly 100 teaching and non-teaching staff and students are operating and maintaining the biogas plant.

Biogas plant is a unit which converts organic, biodegradable waste matter into useful gaseous fuel which helps in reducing carbon emission. The plant type set up in SMV Schoolis fixed dome and the hydraulic retention time is 45 days. Students say that setting up of biogas plant has given them hands on experience in solid waste management.

Solid waste management may be defined as systematic collection and disposal of solid waste. The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), which operates under the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (MNES) promotes the alternative energy options. To promote and disseminate information about biogas technology specifically, the government has organised the National Project on Biogas Development nation-wide. The government views biogas technology as a vehicle to reduce rural poverty, and as a tool in part of a wider drive for rural development. The advantages of biogas are manifold.

  • The gas is useful as a fuel substitute for firewood, dung, agricultural residues, petrol, diesel, and electricity.
  • Biogas helps in generation of eco friendly energy production. The calorific value of biogas is equal to that of half liter of diesel oil (6 kWh/m3). Larger biogas plants generate and feed electricity into mainstream power grids. Smaller biogas production units can support lighting and cooking requirements.
  • Biogas in rural areas can be particularly advantageous to women. Installing a biogas unit will relieve her of the tiring and tedious job of collecting and ferrying firewood. Since, biogas burns cleanly, the rural homes can also boost of smoke free kitchens. Cooking is also easier with a gas stove and takes less time.
  • Biogas positively contributes to better health. It lowers the incidence of respiratory diseases. Diseases like asthma, lung problems, and eye infections have considerably decreased in the same area when compared to the pre-biogas plant times.

The total quantity of bio waste generated in SMV school in Thiruvananthapuram city is 150 kg per day. The volume of the gas generated in the plant is 10 m3.  The success of this project is highlighted by the fact that the mid-day meals provided to the students as well as the food in school canteen is cooked by the biogas generated by the plant.

*Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of INVC



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