The year was 2013. Abhishek Verma, who hailed from Kanpur, was pursuing his first-year mechanical engineering at Ghaziabad’s Inderprastha Engineering College.
For the longest time, a big open sewer known as Surya Nagar Nala, flowed beside the student hostel, inconveniencing the students.
While others around him complained about the foul stench from the sewer, scrunching their noses up in disgust when passing by, Abhishek thought of it as an opportunity for innovation.
So when the dirty water from the Surya Nagar Nala foamed and let out gas bubbles, Abhishek remembered learning about the decomposition process of organic waste within the sewer.
He got another classmate, Abhinendra Patel, on board, collected a sample of this gas, and sent it for testing to IIT-Delhi.
When the lab conducted a Gas Chromatography test, the duo found that the gas being released from the drain had the same composition as gobar gas or biogas, where the percentage of methane was 65 per cent. This made it inflammable.
The two then worked on a prototype. The gas extracted would help Shiv Prasad, the proprietor of the nearby Ramu tea-stall.
In June 2014, they demonstrated the concept at Shiv Prasad’s stall.
When they found that the drain released 60-70 per cent methane gas, they took a set of six drums, put them in a secondary case, connected them with iron barricades and submerged them into the open drain.
The drums trapped the gas and began to rise, as the pressure inside them increased. This gas was then extracted from the drums with the help of pipes which were connected to the stove, and a valve could tap it as per the requirement.
The six-unit system was set up at the cost of Rs 5,000 and extracted 200 litres of gas.
The system was praised by local media that termed it ‘gutter gas’. It helped Ramu Tea-stall earn four times its previous income without a dependence on LPG.
While some customers were sceptic about the use of gutter gas, the business only grew when the taste or quality of the tea wasn’t compromised. Moreover, it was a sustainable way of turning waste into wealth.
Reference: The Better India