Israeli start-up turns waste into cooking gas

"It makes garden crops grow almost twice as big, and also saves on watering."

By GLOBES/IDAN RABI
August 25, 2016 11:00
3 minute read.
cooking

Chef cooking with a flaming pan (illustrative). (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)

 
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The startup transforms one family's waste into enough gas to cook three meals.

An average person creates two kilograms of waste per day. When you multiply this figure by 7.5 billion people, you get an almost inconceivable amount of waste - and that is only one day.

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Israeli startup HomeBiogas is trying to deal with garbage using a special system.

HomeBiogas founder and CEO Oshik Efrati told "Globes" that the system was a "home biogas system that receives the home organic waste - food fragments - and turns it into cooking gas and liquid fertilizer using a simple biological process. The size of the device is one meter by 1.5 meters, like a trash can outside your house. At this stage, the device is suitable only for private homes, and is very efficient. Three kilograms of waste produces enough gas for three hours of cooking. One family's waste can produce enough energy to cook three meals. The byproduct of the process is what is regarded as high-quality liquid fertilizer containing minerals and suitable for the garden. It makes garden crops grow almost twice as big, and also saves on watering."

The product being developed by the company is sent in a suitcase to customers, who assemble it by themselves, "just like IKEA."

The company currently markets its product to 35 countries, with the price of the kit being $1,000. Efrati says that the product is easy to operate.

"You don't need an external power source or an electrical connection it all works mechanically and biologically," he declares. Last year, HomeBiogas sold 100 units, and by the end of the year, it expects to sell 500 kits.

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Who needs this device?

Efrati: "We have two principal markets. One is developing countries that lack energy, where people cook on wood or coal. There are 540 million such families in the world, who go to the woods and collect logs. In many places, the forest is too far away, and they have to buy coal. It costs them about a dollar a day. The smoke from the coal causes them many respiratory problems - it's called home pollution. This problem has been called the 'silent killer.' About 4.3 million women and children die each year from breathing in smoke from cooking. One hour of cooking over an open flame within a room or building is the same as smoking 400 cigarettes. There is no shortage of garbage anywhere. If it's not food waste, then it's waste from animals, or excrement. We've already done several such projects, both in Africa and in the Palestinian Authority with Bedouins living in tents in northern Jericho.

"Our second market is super-developed areas, such as California, Australia, Hawaii, France, and Italy. People there are environmentally aware. They already separate and recycle waste. Many of them have composters (a device that performs a similar process, I.R.) in the garden. They can now have a more advanced and elegant alternative."

In January, the company conducted a crowdfunding campaign, raising $250,000. The company has raised $3 million from private investors and the Ministry of the Economy and Industry Chief Scientist since it was founded in 2012, and is currently in the midst of another financing round, in which it is attempting to raise $1.5 million.

Do you have competitors?


"Not really. There are large industrial products dealing with large cowsheds or municipal waste that cost tens of millions of dollars."

Excuse me for asking, but is this a little smelly or disgusting?

"No, there's no odor. The device is sealed."

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