NEWS

Dutch auction supports Nova's biogas research
On 15 February 2014 an auction was held at the opening of the new city centre of Zeist in the Netherlands, with all proceeds going towards Nova. The auction formed part of the festive opening week of the new open plan, social friendly and energy efficient building. A variety of interesting items went under the hammer, including works of art, a world cup football signed by members and coaches of the Dutch football team and a hand-woven garment from Gautemala.

Nova’s projects were presented as beneficiaries of the Fair Trade auction at the opening of the Zeist city centre.

The auction was organised by Fair Trade Zeist, a civil work group with representatives from the city council, diverse businesses and organisations as well as the PKN, (Protestant Church Netherlands). Fair Trade Zeist is part of the Dutch Fair Trade City Campaign, which promotes fair trade throughout the Netherlands. The Fair Trade City Campaign supports products produced by people in the developing world under conditions which provide them with fair prices for their products, conditions which are humane to live and work in and which are environmentally sustainable.

Nova’s projects were presented as beneficiaries of the Fair Trade auction. The auction yielded €2 033 (almost R30 000) which will be transferred to Nova via KiA (Church in Action). KiA coordinates the international development work of many churches in the Netherlands.

Peter Spoelstra (right), auction organising committee chairman hands the cheque of 2033 Euro to Jan Hortensius (left), PKN representative.

This will make a significant contribution towards Nova’s efforts of furthering our research into the development of a domestic biogas digester, which is currently entering a new phase. Biogas technology is well known and widely used in different contexts. It involves using the methane gas produced from biomass (e.g. animal dung, human waste or plant waste), as an energy source.

Nova and a team of residents from KwaZamokuhle in South Africa’s Mpmumalanga province have already developed a biogas digester that can be built and maintained with the skills, materials and funds that are available in South African townships.

Nova and a team of residents from KwaZamokuhle have developed a biogas digester that can be built with local skills, materials and funds. This project is now entering a new phase.

However, the digester will only function successfully in a domestic context if it forms an integral part of sustainable household practices.  Such practices must be developed by families using the digester. The first focus of the new phase of the project is for Nova to facilitate the development of these practices. This process will answer questions such as whether people will connect the toilet to the digester or not, whether they will add feedstock on a regular basis, how they will  use gas and fertiliser, etc. The interaction between Nova and the families will continue until viable practices emerge.

The new phase of the project also has a second focus. A post-graduate student in Chemical Engineering (M.Sc.) at the University of Pretoria will evaluate the chemical processes that take place in our digester, within the context of actual daily use in two households. Attention will be given to the feedstock that is available and the chemical processes that take place, given the way people put the feedstock into the digester. The university is interested in this project and is also looking for funding.

Here at Nova we are excited about the variety of networks and partnerships that make it possible for research projects such as this one to continue: Two church bodies, a Fair Trade civil organisation and a city council in the Netherlands, a development organisation, a university, a post-graduate student and members of low-income households in South Africa all play a role. It reminds us that as human beings we are all connected around the globe.
Posted on 16 Apr 2014

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