Ms Hiltrop you have specialized in the topic of sustainability and energy efficiency. However, you have also found out that energy solutions like biogas digesters can also improve water treatment. Could you explain this correlation?
With so many problems in developing regions arising from dirty water, it is imperative to tackle water-based problems. One way to do this is to optimize the collection, storage, treatment, use and re-use of water. Biogas digesters stand for sustainable energy production and they are a promising option for the improvement of sanitation. The digesters process human and animal waste whilst, at the same time, providing valuable energy for cooking. When used even more efficiently – with the inclusion of appropriate technology, like the Jompy, collected water will be sanitized and heated making it suitable for drinking, washing and serving other basic hygiene needs.
The Jompy was created as a fire top device sitting between two pots on an open flame. Whilst cooking a meal, households can also heat water. How did the idea come about to combine this innovation with biogas?
Even before the Jompy won third prize in the “empowering people. Award” last year, I discovered that the innovation can also act as a perfect amendment to a biogas digester while working in a research project funded by the African Union Commission (AUC). During the “empowering people. Award” ceremony last year I realized that the cooperation with other inventions, especially in the field of sustainable energy production as biogas, might be even more effective for beneficiaries in developing countries. In fact, the innovation even optimizes the efficiency of the biogas produced on the one hand and, generates hot and clean water improving hygiene and sanitation around the digester and household, in general.
How will this work?
Basically the Jompy design will be adapted to suit the purpose of biogas stoves by reducing the diameter. Then it can be provided together with the biogas digesters and stoves and used while cooking food the same way as it was originally developed for. But with an even greater benefit: using a way of sustainable energy production in an even more efficient way applying it for cooking food and heating water at the same time and with the same energy source.
How did the promising idea of developing the Jompy to a biogas device and including it in a research project come about and who is currently working on the project?
From my perspective it is important to advance the development of a process such as deriving biogas with the help of an appropriate technology, which is easy to use. This is why I suggested involving universities to begin research on water and sanitation in combination with sustainable energy technologies, including biogas digesters and efficient energy use, for example, with help of the JOMPY water heater.
A proposal is currently being worked out for a second research project together with the Scottish James Hutton research institute and three African universities: Makarere University in Uganda, Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia and the Catholic University of Cameroon.
What are the latest developments in this area?
The latest development was the second network meeting taking place in Bahir Dar and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia in April and May this year. Here I participated actively in the meetings including the idea of the Jompy in a water cycle for biogas digesters. These pictures were taken during the field visit in Ethiopia in which the fitting of the Jompy with the new design of biogas cooking stoves is to be tested more extensively in the future.
The third network meeting will take place in Bamenda, Cameroon, next week at the Catholic University of Cameroon. Here the idea is to include further country specific aspects and culture in Cameroon as it was done before regarding Uganda and Ethiopia for a holistic approach amongst all three countries.