What problem are you trying to solve?
The KubeKo solar biogas is solving three main problems for rural agricultural households in Côte d’Ivoire. Firstly, rural communities in Côte d’Ivoire often lack access to electricity, preventing those families to benefit from digital developments via (smart) phones or simply from having access to lighting at night.
Secondly, indoor cooking by burning wood is a major source of deforestation and a health threat to women in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is also a problem that is hard to solve since alternatives like bottled gas or clean cookstoves are always more expensive than the freely available wood that is used now.
Finally, the KubeKo box offers a solution for the low yields achieved by Sub-Saharan African farmers through nutrient deficits and lack of access to fertilizers. Côte d’Ivoire is a country where most of its population is depending on income from agriculture. In total, 99% of the available fertilizer is imported and as a result, is too expensive for smallholder farmers.
What is your solution to this problem?
The KubeKo box gives access to electricity, clean cooking and a renewable source of agricultural inputs. The box uses anaerobic digestion to break down organic waste into biogas and fertilizer. This residual biomass can come from households, agriculture or animal waste and is fed to the KubeKo, as one would do with a regular bin. Through anaerobic digestion, a constant flux of biogas and fertilizer is produced. The innovative technology of the KubeKo makes the process more efficient than other biogas solutions, needing less space for the same outcome while still being more affordable than any imported competing solution. Furthermore, it is the only product combining home biogas production and access to electricity.
For efficiency, a pump is used that runs on part of the electricity derived from a solar panel attached on top of the box. This panel produces more electricity than the pump requires, which allows households to still use several light bulbs and charge phones simultaneously.
What is your latest update on your innovation?
LONO (www.lono.ci) has spent the last year on research and development in order to produce a digester that is highly efficient and compact. The KubeKo box is the result of this and has successfully completed a first round of pilot tests. One of the outcomes of the pilot was to confirm the impact of the basic submersible pump on the overall process efficiency. The next phase is to increase the user-friendliness by implementing an automated control system for the pump. This will eliminate manual operation that required effort and technical knowledge by users. This is a rather simple adjustment since the design of the reactor remains the same, and the pump can be made automatic using well-tested IoT solutions. A revised prototype is being constructed and in December 2018 we expect the second pilot phase to be completed.