Biogas Charging Plants for EVs - Is This The Answer?
A few days back I came across what I am told is India's first ever biogas plant generating electricity to charge electric vehicles. This biogas plant is located close to the famous Haji Ali Dargah or mosque in Mumbai. It has been operational for several months and is successfully converting wet waste, into electrical energy that is used to charge electrical vehicles.
India's first biogas plant to charge electric vehicles is in Mumbai.
Biogas plants basically have an environment free of oxygen that enables bacteria to transform biomass into biogas, which helps generate carbon neutral, or eco-friendly electrical energy. A biogas plant mainly consists of a suitably named waterproof container called digester, an airtight container known as the gas holder and a generator that converts the mechanical energy produced by the biogas, into electrical energy.
At this biogas plant organic food waste is converted into eco-friendly electrical energy.
To operate this plant one needs the biomass or organic raw materials like wet waste produced by restaurants and home kitchens, or liquid manure, grass, etc. The plant in Mumbai uses wet waste collected from 30 restaurants situated in its vicinity. Once this food waste is put into the biogas plant's digester, it is heated to different temperatures and as there is no light or oxygen inside, the microorganisms within the organic wet waste start to ferment or break down.
Fermenting organic waste and creating energy could have many environmental benefits.
There are vanes or agitators inside the digester that keep stirring the wet waste and the biogas generated during the fermentation process is transferred to the gas holder or container. It is this gas that is then pushed into the generator that converts the mechanical energy from biogas, to electrical energy.
Though space is a big constraint in crowded cities like Mumbai, BMC have done well in installing this biogas plant.
While the process may sound a bit complex, the end result can well be an alternate to fossil fuel energy and it also appears to be the most ideal way to charge electrical vehicles. These are not the only benefits, there are several others too.
The container or digester, where food waste is fermented to create biogas.
For example, seventy percent of our garbage is made up of vegetable peels and other food waste. And since it is this garbage that is recycled to create biogas, there is no need to gather, collect and then transport and dispose this waste. This will also reduce the load on garbage landfills and I am told the residue of the wet waste left behind after the fermentation process, can also be used as a high quality organic fertilizer. So such biogas plants are not just a way for eliminating smelly and sticky garbage, but they can also help fertilize our fields to grow better crops.
Presently this small biogas plant can charge two EVs a day, but the capacity can be increased to six EVs.
Rajendra Jagtap, the nodal officer for this "Waste to Energy Plant" has been quoted as saying, "We are killing two birds with one stone. Taking care of garbage disposal as well as creating an alternative to fossil fuel. If this gets a proper push from higher-ups, then we can replicate it across other wards of Mumbai. This one plant has the capability to generate 300 units of energy every day, which translates to saving almost 1000 kgs of coal. Presently two e-vehicles get charged at this plant every day, but the capacity to charge up to six EVs is there".
By all accounts such a biogas plant really has many benefits and they should be introduced in all Indian cities and even on our highways, which have so many dhabas and eating places, producing massive amounts of waste. In fact if you travel anywhere in India, you can see garbage lying all over the place.
Waste management and collection and disposal of garbage, is a serious issue all over our country, and if such biogas plants can "digest" this garbage, and release "biogas" that in turn generates "green electricity" for charging "electric vehicles", then they might be the best possible solution for our future sustainable mobility needs.
This might well be the best and most eco-friendly way to charge electrical vehicles.
The initial cost for installing and running such biogas plants maybe high, but the payback in the long run can be more rewarding. And biogas is definitely a far better way to charge electric vehicles than burning coal to create electrical energy. Given all this, we at Overdrive hope that such biogas plants get replicated all over our vast country.
In our view more such plants need to be introduced all over the country.
Photos Courtesy Raju Baghdarekar