Biogas backpack revolutionises cooking in Ethiopia


    B-Energy, a bio-fuel start-up, is changing rural Ethiopia by producing and providing people with bags that can carry and store biogas. It is also getting locals to start their own businesses by producing and providing biogas to their communities.

    biogas B-Energy’s biogas backpacks are providing a clean source of energy for rural Ethiopians and creating work for those who produce the gas and distribute them.(Images: Katrin Puetz)

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    Shamin Chibba

    A small green revolution is taking place in Ethiopia and it comes in the form of a large gas-filled backpack.

    B-Energy, a social business with a footprint in rural Africa, Asia and Latin America, is providing Ethiopians with backpacks to produce biogas for cooking. Locals who have bought into the concept have turned it into small businesses whereby they produce and sell bags filled with biogas to people within their communities.

    Created by German entrepreneur Katrin Puetz, the 1.2 cubic metre bags provide a clean and cheap alternative to cooking on smoky and polluting wood fires.

    Ethiopian women carry heavy piles of wood on their backs to use for cooking, but B-Energy remedies that problem by providing lightweight balloon backpacks to allow people to make their own biogas. The gas in the bags can last up to four hours.

    Gas is produced by adding food waste or animal dung to a compost bag which then produces methane gas that can be piped out.

    According to a BBC report, Addis Ababa University invited Puetz to move to Ethiopia for a year and helped her develop the technology. In April of last year Puetz launched B-Energy in the east African nation.

    B-Energy describes itself as growing team of dedicated social entrepreneurs who understand the energy problem of the people in their countries.

    In the videos below, Puetz explains the concept behind B-Energy and biogas.