Kenyan entrepreneur turns water weeds into fuel
On the Kenyan shores of Lake Victoria, entrepreneur Dominic Kahumbu and his team remove water hyacinths with rakes and hands.
It's an incredibly invasive plant that carpets the surface of the water, harming fish, and helping mosquitoes and bacteria thrive.
But where many see a pest, Kahumbu sees an opportunity.
"What we're doing out here on Lake Victoria is harvesting what everyone sees as a real threat and pest, an invasive species and with many, many negative connotations, water hyacinth is a blessing in adversity."
And that's because Kahumbu's company Biogas International is piloting a machine that converts water hyacinth into clean cooking fuel.
Kahumbu says two to three kilograms of fuel provide a stove that cooks a meal of corn and beans for four hours.
"The gas is taken from the middle of the actual digester pipe".
In cooperation with the drug manufacturer AstraZeneca and the Institute for Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cambridge, the project provided the "digestive vessels" to 50 families in the western city of Kisumu in Kenya.
This has enabled residents like Tony Otieno to abandon his traditional oven called Jiko.
It runs on charcoal, which, according to Otieno, cost him around $ 12 a sack.
"The gas has no smoke, it has no smell, then it is much faster than the Jiko."
But at $ 650, Kahumbu admits they are not affordable for most families in the city.
"The old people who should retire are suffocating themselves, which is criminal these days, that we should allow this to happen when we are very, very ... this is biogas, they should all have biogas."
He says the company needs capital investment and he's looking for companies looking to buy carbon credits to make sure his green fuel project stays afloat.
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