Cow dung to the rescue

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The Sunderbans, translated from Bengali, means beautiful forests. This home to myriad ecological treasures is battling an electrical crisis. A team of experts has suggested using cow dung to generate power and resolve the issue.

Lack of electric supply

The Sundarbans, home to the largest mangroves and other natural resources, is facing a grave electrical crisis, due to a lack of access to thermal and solar energy. West Bengal’s Minister of Power, Manish Gupta, has revealed storage and transmission of solar energy is a point of concern, which is why new solutions are necessary. A team of scientists from Europe has provided a possible solution, using cow dung.

A rural resource provides a ray of light

Scientists from Microgen Engine Corporation, Holland and Globe Solution, Poland proposed a resolution to the electricity crisis at a recent Kolkata session on ‘Generation of Electricity from Cow Dung’. The two companies are jointly producing a compact power plant, Sterling Engine, to generate electricity from cow dung. According to Gerwin Lubbers from Microgen Engine Corporation, the machine has undergone several upgrades in order to produce power using cow dung.

Image: File Image

Help from cows

Neighbouring states will serve as a point of the resource from where the company will have access to cows. They will use volunteers from West Bengal as well as these states. One such volunteer will be a German lady, Friederike Irina Bruning. She came to India in 1978, as a tourist, and stayed on in Mathura to care for 1500 abandoned injured and unhealthy cows. Power consultant, Asok Dasgupta believes help from people like her will galvanize the project and help with its success.

Possible hurdles

Though the president of Bharat Chamber of Commerce believes collecting cow dung will not be easy due to scattered resources in and around West Bengal, Marcin Wilczynski, from Globe Solution, Poland, is more optimistic. He realizes it will be an issue but is hopeful to find a workable solution because cow dung is cheap and once identified, should be an easily available resource. Since India has a large cow population, it is hoped this form of renewable energy will gather momentum and work as a powerful solution.

Practical matters

Marcin Wilczynski believes the Sterling engine can produce 10kw to 20kw of power. According to Manish Gupta, it’s bulk could make transportation and maintenance difficult though Marcin does not feel the engine will require high levels of maintenance and should provide as much as 50,000 hours of continuous use. They are working on making it more compact for easier transportation to remote villages in West Bengal and across the country. At the Kolkata session, Asok Dasgupta, revealed they are in discussion with The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission to add power produced from cow dung, into the grid.

It is hoped the Sundarbans can finally heave a sigh of relief and rise above electrical issues, thanks to the experts from Microgen Engine Corporation and Globe Solution. Nature is all around us and with increasing dependence on technology, it is apt to make use of both to make the environment more sustainable.

READ MORE: COMPUTER ON WHEELS FOR THE EDUCATION OF VILLAGE KIDS

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