WISE visits biogas factory with LIPI

Published by Team WISE on

by Adithya Asprilla

Recently WISE paid a visit to Dusun Giriharja in Sumedang, West Java. We went to that village because there’s a project being implemented by Loka Penelitian Teknologi Bersih (Clean Technology Research Group), Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia (LIPI; or Indonesian Institute of Sciences). The project that has drawn our attention is about generating biogas from the wastewater of tofu factories. When WISE’s team visited Dusun Giriharja, we were accompanying Neni Sintawardani (Yise Sehat), the person in charge of this project.

Neni herself is a researcher from LIPI and one of the main team members working on the installation of the biogas factory at Dusun Giriharja. During this project, Neni is the one who helps bring together people at the village to establish and build the biogas plant. Moreover, Neni also is the one who teaches about how to maintain the system to a group (paguyuban) comprising residents as well as owners and employees of the tofu-making factories. They learn how to manage and take care of the plant so it will have a long durability. However, Neni is not doing this project by herself.

WISE learned the importance of the villagers in supporting the management of wastewater from tofu factories. The people themselves took the initiative to build the biogas system because they received complaints from the neighboring village of the smell caused by the tofu makers. They then met Neni who offered to build a biogas plant.

WISE also gained knowledge about the fixed bed reactor system that is being used to process the wastewater into biogas. WISE also observed the process of making tofu and how the wastewater is formed. At the moment, pipes run through Dusun Giriharja to collect wastewater from nine tofu factories to the biogas plant. The factories’ wastewater is then processed by the six-stage fixed bed reactor.

Even though it has been around for the past year, the reactor system has not been used optimally and thus the biogas has not been fully utilized by the residents of Dusun Giriharja. Right now 6 m3 of wastewater is being treated daily by the biogas factory, far below the full capacity of 20 m3. WISE hopes that Dusun Giriharja will be able to utilise the full capacity eventually to maximize the benefits biogas. Especially because the biogas plant can be utilized into cooking gas.

“Our first intention to produce biogas was for cooking because most of the villagers still use firewood and others stick with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Those two options burden the villagers because the prices are constantly rising,” explained Neni. Moreover, Dusun Giriharja has access to electricity. So the existence of the electricity network strengthen the first idea from Neni and other LIPI team members.

That’s the reason why the villagers prefer that the biogas plant produce something else other than electricity. Therefore, the factories produce biogas that can be used as cooking gas. Now there are 92 households in the village who plan to use the biogas for daily cooking activities. Furthermore, people from Dusun Giriharja admitted that the complaints about the smell from neighboring village have increasingly reduced.

Villagers at Dusun Giriharja — especially those from tofu local factories — are pretty supportive of this biogas factory project and they received WISE with open arms. We look forward to visiting again in the future with Neni and other LIPI team members to observe the progress at Dusun Giriharja.

Adithya Asprilla is a writer who was mobilised through UNV’sOnline Volunteering Service. This article is also available in Bahasa Indonesia.

Photo above: Neni Sintawardani explaining to WISE’s team and participants about the process of biogas production in Dusun Giriharja (📸 Dendy Primanandi)


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