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Biogas Feasibility in rural Cambodia

I am a student Chemical Engineer at the University of Edinburgh, and currently the president of our EWB branch at Edinburgh University. I am emailing from Cambodia as the NGO I am currently working with here have undertaken a project including building children’s homes, having an onsite vegetable garden, and building a school and education centre. The site is only 4 months into development, but currently electricity does not reach to the site.

There is to be a pig farm on site and as well as using the manure to fertilise the fields we were wondering about the possibility of generating biogas as a fuel for gas burners or in order to generate electricity.

I have carried out some initial research and am in the process of trying to get some cost estimates, materials needed and potential suppliers (there is access to concrete, clay, bricks, metal, however wood is not readily available and would need to be imported) also the efficiency and cost of biogas compared to something like solar power as we want it to be sustainable.

Have you carried out any similar projects? If you have information on the above and any further technical advice it would be much appreciated.



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How bizarre! I was working with biogas strategy in Cambodia a few months back. Biogas is taking off in the area and I will forward information to you today...

  1. Biogas stoves have been proved worldwide as a sustainable alternative to solar, as well as tasting better!
  2. Biogas Stoves: DTW already produce biogas stoves in country They produce them at a relatively low cost and have been distributed country wide. They are a great organisation as they are a social enterprise and positively employ people with disabilities. If you’re looking for an off-the-shelf local production this would be the place to go.
  3. Biogas Lamps: I think DTW sell them; if not again these should be available in Phnom Phen.
  4. Biogas Digesters: I budgeted around $1000 for a decent digester (plus or minus). National Biogas Digester installs digesters in several counties; and will be able to provide you with further information on costs. Please be careful on maintenance and training; it is easy to install a digester but the problems occur in cultural acceptance, ownership and day-to-day running of the digester!

  5. If you have more specific questions please get in touch... If so please specific the following as well... • What NGO is the request coming from (we may on the off chance have an expert who has worked with them before)... • Which region you are working in? • What is currently available regionally? (Materials, labour, expertise, cultural awareness etc?) • If you could also feedback if this was useful that would be great!

  6. Lastly I have a load of PDF docs on biogas and biogas stoves. This totals over 9 MB! This is very general information, so I don’t know if you need it. If so, I will send it through in small zipped attachments. No specifics on cost or anything like that...



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Thank you for getting back to me. The websites are immensely helpful, the second is in Khemi which is really useful as the person I am working with and explaining the process of biogas production to be Cambodian. He has a degree in agriculture and is working for the NGO I am currently working with.

In response to your questions, I am working with an NGO called Cambodian Hope Organisation (CHO). They are based in Poipet just over the Thai boarder. Materials such as bricks, cement, and concrete are available so it seems to be a very practical and sustainable design for the area. Some of the more specific parts may need to be imported from Thailand or sourced in Phnom Phen. The problem is more sourcing local skilled labourers; do you know how technical labourers need to be. If a skilled engineer could supervise the process and support locals would that suffice?

Also regarding the gas outlet; the site I am working with is to eventually have 10 to 12 buildings. The instructions suggest a separate digester is needed for each building, and that a recommended distance is 20m from the building. At present the pig pen foundations are laid about 200m from the to be children's homes would that incur too great a pressure drop in the piping to run pipes that length? And could we distribute the gas produced to more than one building? There are to be 30 pigs on the site so we are looking at about 150kg of dung so I am reckoning a 10m3 reactor is feasible or five 4m3 reactors if we needed one per building.

If you have any other suggestions or any recommendations with regards to the benefits of using the biogas to generate electricity and whether this would be a more or less efficient use of the gas produced that would be most helpful.



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2014-01-20 04:25:24 -0500
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Last updated:
Jan 20 '14