UG seeking to reduce its carbon footprint

The gasifier that was commissioned at UG’s Turkeyen Campus
The gasifier that was commissioned at UG’s Turkeyen Campus

A gasifier was commissioned at the University of Guyana (UG) on Monday, which, once fully operational, will contribute to the reduction in the carbon footprint of the University by utilising a significant amount biomass found on campus.

This is according to Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Dr Paloma Mohamed-Martin, who said that the machine will also be able to provide clean and renewable bioenergy to the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry and potentially enable a significant reduction in the electricity bill to the University when fully operational.

“This gasifier is expected to produce biochar and to train students in bioenergy technology in the BSc Degree programmes in Agriculture and Forestry and in the Masters in Energy…the project which took about 3 years to develop and now in test mode, will have the capacity to produce 10-12 kilowatts of clean energy. The gasifier will be used for research in other biomass materials (eg grass pellets, coconut shells, rice-hull pellets among other biomass sources to produce biochar and electricity),” Mohamed-Martin said.

She explained that it will also be used for training other stakeholders in organic agriculture and power generation using biomass.

Mohamed-Martin said that the “biochar used as a soil ameliorant can aid Guyana’s international commitment to mitigate climate change and contribute to the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) by storing carbon in the soil in a stable form…this project is part of the University of Guyana’s major orientation towards a more robust research agenda in STEM”.

The gasifier was designed by one of UG’s professors, Dr Lawrence Lewis, and his team. Dr Lewis remarked that the mechanical design was “a few years in the making” and its output could lead to a long-term green energy solution.

Meanwhile, according to UG, the unit will now begin its test and application phase over the next 12 months and during this phase, it will be tested under different conditions and using chips from several types of wood to make the pellets that act as fuel for the unit.

There are plans for the usage of the gasifier for research in other biomass resources such as grass pellets, coconut shells and rice-hull pellets among other biomass sources to produce biochar and electricity.

The project was conducted in collaboration with ExxonMobil.