Use manure to generate electricity? Is this possible? Does it work? What are you smoking?
These were some of the responses we obtained when we talked about a project that began some time ago in the jungles of San Martin.
Well, yes, it is possible, through aerobic decomposition, which is a natural process in which organic matter decomposes without the presence of oxygen and methane gas is produced.
If you think of the bubbles that appear in the swamps when you see a horror movie, these gas bubbles are the product of anaerobic decomposition of organic matter into the swamp.
This process can be imitated, by putting organic matter mixed with water in a suitable environment to produce a gas, called biogas. This biogas is composed of various gases including methane, which can be used for cooking or as fuel in an internal combustion engine which must first be adapted to use it.
In conjunction with the Dutch Development Cooperation (SNV), the community of Santa Rosillo is developing a rural electrification project using cow manure. This community is approximately 18 hours of Tarapoto, in the province of Huimbayoc in the Cordillera Escalera. It is unlikely that this community will be connected to the network, considering its degree of isolation and the number of inhabitants, 42 families.
Some of the project team surveyed all the families, house by house, to find out their needs and produced a map of the community. I had the happy task of visiting the cattle every morning to weigh the manure they had left in the yard at night to see if it really they had enough raw material for this activity. After four days weighing manure we concluded that if it was possible to implement the project and give power to this community.
This is the first rural electrification project that I know of using biogas in South America, although there are some people using but the energy generated from chicken manure for personal use. By the middle of this year, the community will be able access the energy and enjoy some of their profits. If all goes well, the project will be expanded to neighbouring communities in due course.