ATEC* Australia International

A climate-resilient biodigester that empowers smallholder farmers and women in Bangladesh

Employee Gender Breakdown

40% women

Innovation Type

Energy-Food

Company Stage

Pre-breakeven

Financing Goals

​Seeking equity (angel investor, venture capital or private equity)

Country of Incorporation

Australia

Country(Ies) of Implementation

Bangladesh, Cambodia

Contact Name

Ben Jeffreys

Contact Email

bjeffreys@atecbio.com

Website Address

https://atecbio.com/

Challenge

Traditional cooking methods create multiple health and livelihood issues for families. Approximately, 58% of rural households in Bangladesh still use firewood as their main fuel. Harmful smokes from cooking with said wood are estimated to kill over 107,000 Bangladeshi per year. Additionally, Bangladeshi women spend 150 hours per year collecting wood and 4 hours per day cooking, cleaning pots, and clearing the ashes from wood fuel. Those inefficient daily tasks place a huge burden on the economic situation of the household.

Traditional cooking methods also translate into environmental degradation, as wood collection for cooking puts a lot of pressure on forestry resources. Deforestation also increases soil degradation, which is already negatively affecting in country. An estimate of 62% of the soil is classified as chemically deteriorated.

Even though Bangladesh has a national program, Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL), focused on financing renewable energy infrastructure, capture of the market has been severely limited (2.5%). Biodigesters, specifically, have faced usage challenges because traditional brick and mortar biodigesters cannot be installed or used year-round in high-flooding countries like Bangladesh. They are not efficient, and they require a lot of space.

Solution

ATEC has designed its high-quality biodigester system through a human-centered design approach that focuses on:

  • Matching the needs of rural farming families (the biodigester only requires 2 livestock or 5kg of green waste per day in order to produce enough gas for daily cooking needs)
  • Providing a system that can work in a variety of challenging environments (flood resistant up to 1.8 meters, no cracking in high groundwater)
  • Providing a system that can be commercially distributable through retail channels (the biodigester can be moved and sold by households as an asset)
  • Offering consumers the best product out there, at a price point they can afford (the new rotor-moulded design uses export-quality ultra-violet treated linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) plastic (a type of plastic with greater resistance to punctures and a higher tensile strength). The biodigester has an expected lifespan of 25 years and comes pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) enabled)

Every biodigester produces up to 1,800 liters of renewable biogas per day, which can be used for cooking, and 30 tons of organic fertilizer per year for agriculture. The use of bio-slurry reduces the quantity of water required for agriculture and the use of organic fertilizer increases crop yield by up to 32%, supporting food production with efficient energy use.

The innovation also contributes to women empowerment by providing women an extra 20 hours per week, when compared to cooking with wood. It also removes the health hazard of indoor air pollution, giving them the agency and resources to create better lives for themselves and their families

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