Energy, Water and Environment

From Waste to Energy: Conversion of Agricultural Waste to Value-Added Fuel

With the global energy crisis currently looming and petroleum as well as natural-gas reserves depleted, many rural areas in Egypt and Lebanon are suffering from shortages of necessary fuel for their basic daily life activities. This energy scarcity motivates applied research to find alternative sources for fuel. In this regard, biogas is considered a sustainable and effective renewable energy source that can be used to provide rural areas with the amount of much needed fuel. Biogas is the mixture of gases produced by the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen (anaerobically), primarily consisting of methane and carbon dioxide. Biogas can be produced from anaerobic digestion of raw materials such as agricultural waste, manure, municipal waste, plant material, sewage, green waste or food waste. One of the main benefits is that the digestate remaining after the biogas production can be used as an excellent fertilizer for agricultural activities. 

Despite the fact that some Arab governments have started to invest in small-scale biogas production, the restrictive bottlenecks are both the production costs as well as the production efficiency. Therefore, the AGYA Working Group ‘Energy, Water and Environment’ proposes a unique and innovative approach to tackle these challenges. In the proposed project, the involved AGYA members aim to investigate the effect of nanoadditives to enhance the biogas production efficiency and reduce the costs. Specifically, they suggest to use biocompatible nanoadditives to avoid negative effects of nanomaterials on fermentation bacteria and thus on the biogas production.

In addition, AGYA members Zeina Hobeika (Biochemistry), Ahmed Khalil (Materials Sciences) and Nageh Allam (Physics; Materials Sciences) propose combining solar energy with biogas production plants to enhance the production rate. This will be achieved by modelling simulations to determine the most promising combinations of agricultural waste and nanoadditives to achieve the highest possible rate of biogas production. The experimental research will be conducted at the American University in Cairo (Egypt) and the University of St Joseph (Lebanon) in close cooperation with Fayoum University (Egypt).

Members in Charge

Nageh Allam

Engineering, Material Science
American University in Cairo, Physics Department

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Philipp Blechinger

Reiner Lemoine Institute, Off-Grid Systems

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Zeina Hobaika

Saint Joseph University of Beirut, Faculty of Sciences

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Ahmed Saad Gomaa Khalil

Materials Science
Fayoum University and Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST)

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DATE and Venue of the project

March - December 2020



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