Clean Tech

Digest at the doorstep

Preeti Mehra | Updated on January 20, 2018

The team at GPS Renewables, a Bengaluru-based waste-to-energy company

BioUrja helps to tackle waste solutions locally

When IIM-Bangalore alumni Mainak Chakraborty and Sreekrishna Sankar along with mechanical engineer Praveen S. allowed their entrepreneurial wings to take flight, they were not sure what they would end up doing. But they knew one thing — they would like to use technology for good.

“There were no Eureka moments. We gave ourselves one year to figure out our business. The only thing we were certain of was that it would be for profit but at the same time make a social and environmental impact” recalls Chakraborty who is now Executive Director and co-CEO at GPS Renewables, a Bengaluru-based waste-to-energy company that is using anaerobic digestion (AD) technology to develop clean and low-cost waste management solutions.

“We looked at the biggest problems that needed to be addressed in the country. We found they were waste and water. So we decided to take waste head on and make value out of waste,” he says.

To decide how they were going to tackle waste, the trio travelled extensively looking at the existing models on the ground. “We zeroed in on bio-gas but found that a lot of bio-gas plants shut down due to faults and poor maintenance.”

That's when GPS came up with its core product – the BioUrja, which is installed in several large institutions today including the Infosys Pochharam campus in Hyderabad, the Akshaya Patra Foundation in Bengaluru and the Manipal University campus in Jaipur.

This feedstock agnostic AD plant has the capability of processing any kind of biodegradable material to generate energy in the form of methane. What makes it stand out amongst other bio-gas waste -to-energy products is that it is the first Internet of Things in the bio-energy space. This means that wherever a BioUrja plant may be installed, the company can monitor its health and maintain its efficiency through a proprietary cloud based monitoring system. There is no need for any operations and maintenance staff on-site

According to the company the BioUrja has many virtues. “It is conceptualised to enable every bulk waste generator to have an economically viable waste treatment solution of its own. It is two times faster than and twice as efficient as any other BioCNG system. The high speed digestion mechanism helps to generate more bio-gas per day therefore resulting in more savings for the clients. It is pre fabricated, compact and can co exist in any urban location,” they say.

Though GPS commenced operations only in 2012, it has managed to execute around 35 projects till now. “ We are at an advantage as the storage cost of solar is still high and energy generated from the BioUrja can even be stored in a balloon, hence it is a low cost solution,” explains Chakraborty. He also feels that with cities growing vertically it does not make sense to put waste in massive landfills. If waste can be handled at the location it is generated, that would make much more sense.

The BioUrja suite in a sense is complete by itself, consisting of an input system with shredders, a gas storage system, sludge de-watering system and gas piping to the kitchen along with burners, making the transition for the customer hassle free.

Currently GPS Rnewables is involved in a project in California and has been working in Bangladesh as well. Chakraborty finds that the verticals using their product are on the increase including hospitality, textiles, educational, poultry, dairy, industrial, medical and rural India -- the possibilities are increasing by the day.

“Where we score is that the BioUrja plant can co-exist with people as it does not give out fumes or any smell. Hence the problem of waste can be decentralised and tackled locally.” So where will GPS go from here? To gated communities and the neighbourhood. Maybe your door-step next? 

Published on June 07, 2016

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