RedBioLAC

Network of Biodigesters for Latin America and the Caribbean (RedBioLAC)

RedBioLAC is a consolidated and very active network of individuals and organisations involved in applied research, implementation and advocacy on biodigesters. Their aim is to contribute to the proper management of natural resources while promoting socio-economic wellbeing in Latin American and Caribbean.

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Using biodigesters in wastewater management (Webinar)

News from WISIONS posted on July 28th, 2021

Following the launch of RedBioLAC’s webinar series, the second episode looked beyond the typical applications of biodigesters and focused on the function they can play in wastewater management. The invited lecturers were Raúl Botero (Costa Rica), an international expert in sustainable agricultural and livestock systems in the tropics, and Julián Andrés Giraldo (Colombia), a researcher at the Centre of Investigation in Sustainable Systems of Agricultural and Livestock Production (CIPAV) and a farmer.Read moreMinimize

Botero emphasised the significant potential in the tropics for biomass production and subsequently outlined its use in producing biogas and organic fertilisers for family farms. By combining a biodigester with the use of lagoons, it is possible to simultaneously recycle water and produce biogas: the wastewater from the barns can be used as fertiliser for aquatic plants in the decontamination lagoons which, in turn, recycle the water for reuse in the farm instead of polluting the river. Additionally, Botero put forward the use of human excrement as a biogas source; biodigesters work just as well using human waste as animal waste and this approach could decontaminate cities, bearing in mind that humans produce the same amount of CO2 as all the animals in the world. Another takeaway from Botero’s presentation is that one litre of deep-frying oil pollutes up to one million litres of water but generates 38 times more biogas than liquid cattle manure.

The second speaker, Julián Andrés Giraldo, shifted the focus of the webinar onto the role of knowledge exchange and participative experiments in the context of rural education. He explained how cultural traditions and values are no longer transmitted to the younger generation. Young people also lack experience in manual labour, with the result that they have lost a vital connection to the land. According to Giraldo, the integration of traditional knowledge and academia is an appropriate tool for tackling these failures. He referred to a project in the micro-basin “Los Sainos' ' in western Colombia that was initiated in the 1990s in response to the water crisis due to the emergence of monoculture in the 1980s. Instead of relocating, the 75 fincas there – one of which belonged to Giraldo’s parents – decided to take action. For this purpose, the campesin@s teamed up with local organisations and developed a strategy to rejuvenate the area and focus on environmentally-friendly methods of production. Biodigesters are one of the key technologies used to capture, filter and store rainwater. In a project at Giraldo’s parents’ finca, the effluent from the biodigester was used to cultivate aquatic plants in the canal; this decontaminated the water and created a source of food for birds and pigs. In 1995, this participative experiment won the “planeta azul” (blue planet) prize and is a prime example of how the combination of technical and rural knowledge can generate new technologies.



Click here to read the post about the first webinar.


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Upcoming events

The 11th Annual Conference of RedBioLAC ("Encuentro RedBioLAC") will take place from 14 – 18 October 2019 in Varadero, Cuba. More information available here.

You can find information on upcoming RedBioLAC webinars here: RedBioLAC webinar series




Introduction

Biodigesters can help to improve the livelihoods of rural households in the Global South in different ways. They allow treating flows of organic waste, thereby improving the in-farm management of soil. The by-product of the treatment is biogas, a combustible gas which can replace other unsustainable fuels. Additionally the effluent and sludge produced by the process are of great value as organic fertilizer. In Latin America and the Caribbean, there is a long history of initiatives which have adapted, tested and further developed small and medium-sized biogas technologies. However, back in 2009, avenues for exchanging experiences were almost non-existent, especially for practitioners active in the field.

RedBioLAC came into existence in 2009, following a WISIONS SEPS project (Biogas Digester Innovations In Latin America), which focused on sharing experiences on the use of biodigesters in Latin America. This first exchange gave impetus to the idea of establishing a network to promote knowledge sharing between research, development and advocacy groups involved with biogas technologies in Latin America and the Caribbean. The network was formalised at a meeting in 2010 in Costa Rica.

Vision & Goals

RedBioLAC’s vision is to become the leading organisation providing research, development, implementation and advocacy in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) for the use of biodigesters to stimulate the sustainable management of natural resources and promote people’s socioeconomic wellbeing in LAC.
RedBioLAC’s brings together institutions related to applied research and the dissemination of anaerobic biodigestion to achieve the following objectives:


  • Exchange information, knowledge and experiences among participating institutions
  • Identify and overcome technical, environmental, social and economic barriers in the field of biogas
  • Propose projects, mechanisms and ideas to disseminate biodigester technology within LAC
  • Generate alliances that facilitate the adoption of biodigester technology
  • Systematise research and disseminate findings among partners, and share insights with related fields including health, financing, policy, education, industry and marketing
  • Promote the inclusion of other organisations, institutions and researchers in the field of biodigesters
  • Promote actions to advocate and influence policies related to biodigesters

Activities

RedBioLAC is a very active platform for knowledge exchange, development and dissemination. This is achieved via diverse methods and activities, specifically through the annual conference, annual magazine, e-learning, online library and forum. Additionally, two areas of activity fostering knowledge creation and dissemination have emerged recently: working groups and a student internship programme. Find more about these activities below.

Annual Event and magazine

The annual conference provides a dynamic opportunity for interaction between experts, relevant stakeholders and interested audiences in general. The conference format entails not only presentations and discussions about the latest developments, but also training courses on basic biogas technologies and field visits.

2018 marked the 10th Annual RedBioLAC Conference, which took place from 17 – 21 September 2018 in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil. A video summarising the conference is available on Facebook, along with photos of the event.

Since 2017 the network has published an annual magazine to showcase academic research, case studies, scientific groups, technical factsheets and advertise projects, programmes, companies, and services on biogas.
You can download RedBioLAC’s magazines here.

Online Platform and Library

Of the network's online tools, the discussion forum is the liveliest area for interaction, with more than 900 participating subscribers. Almost 500 topics are available on the forum, providing a rich source of knowledge on anaerobic digestion as applied in the region

A broad variety of publications on a number of topics can be found in the online library.

Knowledge exchange

Topic-specific working groups aim to involve network members in the development of collaborative projects in order to address specific knowledge gaps (e.g. technical issues, management monitoring and impact assessment) or to strengthen collaboration at sub-regional levels (e.g. the ‘southern cone’, the ‘Andean countries’, the Caribbean states and Central America).

The student internship programme aims to facilitate and support applied research on topics relevant to network members by involving students at the advanced stage of their studies. This serves to address knowledge gaps, while simultaneously contributing to international knowledge-sharing and capacity-building of the next generation of experts and decision-makers.


Coordination & Support

The network is supported by several organisations, one of which is the WISIONS initiative. The coordination of the RedBioLAC is led by Mariela Pino (left). 

The network's secretariat is run by the organisation GreenEmpowerment.