January 16, 2021

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India installs eco-friendly biodigester tech units

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation (MAHA –METRO) are working together to conserve water and protect the environment by installing DRDO’s eco-friendly biodigester units (a non-sewer sanitation technology) in its facilities.

According to a press release, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was inked on 5 January between MAHA-METRO and DRDO through which DRDO will render technical support for the implementation of its advanced biodigester Mk-II technology for the treatment of human waste (night soil) in the metro rail network.

DRDO is a premier research organisation and MAHA-METRO is a joint venture company under the central government and the government of Maharashtra. DRDO’s biodigester is an indigenous, green, and cost-effective technology and has one of the largest numbers of DRDO-licensees (ToT holders).

The Indian Railways has already installed about 240,000 biodigesters in its fleet of passenger coaches. For MAHA-METRO, the technology has been revamped and further improved in a bid to save water and space.

A customised version of this MK-II Biodigester, suitable for treating human waste generated from houseboats in Dal Lake, was successfully demonstrated by the DRDO to the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Administration. The Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LWDA) of the J&K Administration has initiated the process to procure 100 units of Mk-II Biodigesters for civil habitats around Dal Lake to minimise water pollution. The implementation of Biodigester MK-II in Srinagar is being monitored by a committee of experts constituted by the High Court of J&K. When fully implemented, this green technology will significantly reduce the Dal lake pollution.

This technology is upgraded through improvements in the bio-degradation efficiency, design modification, and addition of secondary treatment modules. The new reactor is designed to provide more path length with increased biological reaction time, thereby enhancing the biodegradation efficiency of the system. This technology was primarily developed for the armed forces in high-altitude Himalayan regions, including Leh-Ladakh and Siachen glacier.

India is pushing to be one of the largest green energy producers in the world. According to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, as of October 2020, India’s total renewable energy installed capacity had reached over 89.63 GW.

A news report explained that during the last six years, India has witnessed the fastest rate of growth in renewable energy capacity addition among all large economies, with renewable energy capacity growing by 2.5 times and solar energy expanding by over 13 times. Renewable energy now constitutes over 24% of the country’s installed power capacity and around 11.62% of the electrical energy generation.

Further, including large hydropower, the share of renewable energy in electric installed capacity is over 36% and over 26% of the electric energy generation. Large hydropower has about 45 GW hydro installed capacity and 13 GW capacity under installation, bringing India’s total renewable energy portfolio of installed and in-pipeline projects to 221 GW, the report said.

Around 49.59 GW renewable energy capacity is under installation, and an additional 27.41 GW capacity has been tendered. This makes the total capacity that is already commissioned and in the pipeline about 166.63 GW.