Recycling organic waste into power might sound like sci-fi, but biogas is a major player in the world of sustainable energy. In crisis-hit parts of the world, it enables communities to both reduce their waste and cook with gas. That’s where SOWtech and Butyls Products Ltd come in with the Flexigester, bringing energy engineering know-how to emergency situations and communities in need.
What is the Flexigester?
The Flexigester is ingenious. Through a series of biogas storage bags and a network of solid and flexible pipes, it provides sanitation, while producing a non-fossil fuel derived gas for cooking, as well as pasteurised fertiliser for improved crop growth. Installation is as simple as it is swift. With just a shallow trench required, the system can be up and running in mere hours.
Who are SOWtech?
Cambridge-based SOWtech (Sustainable OneWorld Technologies) brings relief and low-cost sanitation to developing and crisis-hit countries that lack infrastructure. Working with the International Red Cross and Aquaid Lifeline, SOWtech recently supplied the first community-based Flexigester in Namisu, Malawi. A village specifically built to house, feed and clothe neighbouring Malawi orphans, the Flexigester was installed as part of the mission to create a self-sufficient community. Due to the size and demands of the project, SOWtech founder and lead designer Dr John Mullett turned to SOLIDWORKS to realise his project.
How did SOLIDWORKS help SOWtech?
Using 3D CAD was crucial to the formation of the village’s bespoke Flexigester system. Dr Mullett, previously using traditional pencil and paper for his design work, required a more substantial tool for the task. Not only is SOLIDWORKS an engineering tool that’s easy to navigate virtual 3D blueprints, it also offers pin-sharp rendering of materials. This was a huge factor in the design of the system, with the Bill of Materials feature providing precise costings.
This helped determine the best possible design at the lowest cost possible, an imperative move to a budget-conscious development with no room for mistakes. In international aid, every penny is vital: viability of project builds are determined by strict cost and feasibility criteria. Namisu’s Flexigester was no exception. SOLIDWORKS allowed the team to prototype the system, before any potential costly risk of physical build.
What next for SOWtech?
Having completed the Flexigester in Namisu, SOWtech is continuing its excellent work in sanitation and waste products, bringing urgent and essential relief to communities and disaster-struck regions around the world.