WISIONS of Sustainability

Our mission is to empower individuals and communities to transform the production and use of energy so that it effectively enables sustainable development. Read more about WISIONS activities, goals and background.

News Blog

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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.

3rd RedBioLAC webinar in 2021

News from WISIONS posted on July 20th, 2021

What are the major barriers to diffuse and adapt biodigester technologies in developing projects? By underlining the environmental and economic advantages and encouraging further investment projects in biogas plants, major challenges and potentials must be identified. For this purpose, RedBioLAC invited Marirela Pino and Luis Santisteban to share their knowledge and experience in biodigestion at small, medium and large scale.Register hereRead moreMinimize

Mariela Pino ( Chile) is an agricultural engineer and ordinator coordinated the RedBioLAC for 7 years. Since 2009 she has worked as a consultant for biodigestion, waste management, environmental education and sustainability gaining professional experience in this field in Latin America, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Currently she is working on the book “State of the art of biodigesters in Latin America”.

Luis Santisteban ( Peru) is a biotechnologist, specialized in industrial processes and future energy systems. He has taught at the Faculty of Agricultural Engineering of the Universidad Católica and is currently working as a project manager at the company TereoSolutions.

The webinar will be moderated by Santiago Gutiérrez ( Mexico) who has worked since 2008 in biodigestion, mostly in Mexico. He has won 31 prizes for adapting Raul Botero’s model to Mexican conditions. Moreover, he published 39 energy-related papers.

The event will be held online on 21st of July at 8am Costa Rican time, but will be available afterwards. Please note that the webinar will be held in Spanish.

Smart Grids for Small Grids

News from WISIONS posted on June 22nd, 2021

Do you remember the last time we reported about the importance of open source approaches for making progress on SDG7 (affordable and clean energy)? Well, WISIONS has recently started supporting a project co-ordinated by Green Empowerment that aims to develop open source mini-grid management tools for optimising the use of renewable power, enabling rural communities to power more electrical appliances. Read moreMinimize

Green Empowerment is collaborating in this project with regional partners SIBAT (the Philippines) and TONIBUNG (Malaysia) to develop and test open source tools that make renewable energy mini-grids smarter and more reliable. The project derives from and builds on previous successful experiences leading to the development of open source Electronic Load Controllers.

ELCs are devices that stabilise the energy supply by enabling turbines to run at a constant power output, with excess power diverted to artificial loads (ballast). To avoid this unused energy being wasted, the new open source tools will enable useful, but not crucial, appliances to be powered when electricity demand across the whole mini-grid is lower than the amount of electricity generated. Equally, these non-essential appliances will be automatically switched off when all the energy in the mini-grid is required to power primary appliances. For example, a community could establish a laundrette service with pay per use washing machine(s) that are only activated when the grid has available capacity, either by queuing the washing machines or by prohibiting their use at certain times of the day. This would allow the available energy to be used with maximum efficiency, directly improving socio-economic conditions in remote communities.

This project uses a similar approach to the previous project (which led to the development and dissemination of the open source ELC). The project is being implemented in close cooperation with practitioners working in the communities and will ensure full access to the technology: all the knowledge and design materials will be made available online, as per the establishment of ELC Wiki. The provision of the open source ELC data has already yielded good results, allowing remote communities to design and repair their ELCs together with local practitioners and avoid high costs.

In other words, soon you’ll be able to complement your self-built ELCs with a home-produced load management system!

Watch the webinar for further information about the project:

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