Biogas Production Using Water Hyacinth (Eicchornia crassipes) for Electricity Generation in Kenya


Water hyacinth, E. crassipes, an invasive water weed thrives in fresh water bodies causing serious environmental problems. In Kenya the weed has invaded Lake Victoria and poses great socioeconomic and environmental challenges. Currently the weed is harvested from the Lake and left in the open to rot and decay leading to loss of aesthetics, land and air pollution. There is therefore need for development of value addition and economic exploitation strategies. The aim of the study is to assess the potential for utilization of the weed as a renewable energy resource for biogas production. Samples were collected from Lake Victoria, pulped and blend with cow dung at a ratio of 3:1 as inoculum. The resultant mixture was mixed with water at a ratio of 1:1 and fed into a 6 m3 tubular digester. The digester was recharged with 20 kg after every three days. The temperature, pH variations, gas compositions, upgrading and gas yields were studied. The temperature ranged between 22.8°C - 36.6°C and pH 7.4 - 8.5. Biogas was found to contain 49% - 53% methane (CH4 ), 30% - 33% carbon dioxide (CO2 ), 5% - 6% nitrogen (N2 ) and traces of hydrogen sulphide (H2S). The biogas was upgraded using solid adsorbents and wet scrubbers increasing the methane content by up to 70% - 76%. The upgraded gas was used to power internal combustion engines coupled with an electricity generator and direct heat applications. The study concludes that E. crassipes is a potential feedstock for biogas production especially in areas where it is abundant.

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Njogu, P. , Kinyua, R. , Muthoni, P. and Nemoto, Y. (2015) Biogas Production Using Water Hyacinth (Eicchornia crassipes) for Electricity Generation in Kenya. Energy and Power Engineering, 7, 209-216. doi: 10.4236/epe.2015.75021.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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