Solid Waste Management Department

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Biogas Initiative - Solution to food waste with the bonus of eco-fuel

The Pune Municipal Corp (PMC), has, in many ways, become the model corporation when it comes to disposal of waste through multiple solutions that follow the 4R principle of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover. 

A part of this is to treat food waste generated by bulk users separately, not only to reduce and recycle waste but to recover valuable energy by converting it into valuable bio fuel that will soon power the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) buses with fuel that is claimed to be cleaner and more cost effective than CNG. 

Noble Exchange Environment Solutions Pvt Ltd (NEX), which is funded by Adar Poonawala’s Clean City Movement supported by the promoters of the Serum Institute is the implementation partner for this project. This is a Rs 65 crore project that has begun to deliver results in an impressive 11 months after it was granted approvals, through its 300 tons per day (TPD) bio methanation (also known as methanogenesis) plant at Talegaon’s industrial zone just 35 kms from Pune. 

PMC merely provides 15,000 square feet of space within the city for the initial sorting, processing and conversion of food waste into an easily transportable slurry, which is carried to Talegaon. PMC of course has backed the project by ensuring support, approvals, permissions, proper segregation and collection of food waste from bulk users such as hotels, restaurants, gardens and markets in Pune. The slurry, that is produced after manual sorting of food waste at Baner in Pune is transported to Talegaon, where a state of the art facility has been set up. 

A few unique features of the environmentally efficient NEX waste processing plant include odourless and noiseless operation with zero discharge, which is essentially based on the anaerobic digestion system with water-based cleaning, scrubbing, and compression system that converts the organic waste slurry into compressed biogas (CBG). The plant helps in better digestion and circulation of the slurry inside the digester and avoids settling of the solids inside the digester and is designed to handle all biodegradable waste. By-products generated from the process will be organic fertilizers that replace chemical fertilizers for farming. Compressed Biogas (CBG) produced at the processing plant will be marketed to institutional clients to replace conventional energy - LPG, diesel etc. 

A group of activists, concerned citizens and journalists met with Pune’s Joint Municipal Commissioner Suresh Jagtap and visited the Noble Exchange facilities. One of the key observations of this self-funded study tour was that the PMC led by Mr Jagtap ensures citizen engagement and awareness building, stakeholder participation and adoption of multiple, scientific and decentralised waste processing options. 

The project transforms waste liabilities into new profit centres, eliminates the cost of pick-up, transportation and landfill site expenses for the municipal corporation over a period, while providing high quality compressed Bio-Gas to replace a wide range of fossil fuels.