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Minister of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce (MITEC), Phillip Paulwell has said that with the continued escalation in world oil prices, Jamaica must seek cost-effective energy alternatives.
“With increased concerns over environmental degradation and our escalating oil prices, it is imperative that we seek the most cost-effective methods,” the Minister said, as he addressed the launch of an Up-flow Anaerobic Sludge Blanker (UASB) Reactor today (May 30) at the Old Hope Road offices of the Scientific Research Council (SRC).
The system uses oxygen-free (anaerobic) bacteria to treat industrial, agro-processing and city waste to produce natural gas as a by-product. Marketech Limited, a subsidiary of SRC, spearheaded the development, which was completed in early 2005 at a cost of $500,000.
Minister Paulwell lauded the system’s promising efficiency, noting that (“it) will have tremendous impact in alleviating the present energy crisis and this technology will enable us to save on our energy costs.”
Pointing to the advantages of the reactor, Minister Paulwell said it required minimal maintenance, was environmentally friendly and the treated wastewater complied with international waste disposal standards. Furthermore, water retrieved from the system could be recycled and used for irrigation purposes.
The Minister urged the private sector to maximise the use of systems such as the UASB, to preserve the natural environment and save energy. He further praised private sector representatives, who attended the launch and have indicated an interest in using the system in their industries. Among them are Caribbean Broilers (distributors of CB chicken) and Jamaican Producers Group.
Meanwhile, Manager of the Process Development Division at SRC, Julia Brown, informed that the reactor could save the Council some $250,000 in energy costs per year.
Miss Brown noted that the key benefits of the UASB reactor were: its ability to yield renewable energy sources such as natural gas, the production of organic fertilizer for use in the agricultural sector and application in large-scale food processing.
Dr. Conrad Douglas, Chairman of the Board at SRC, who chaired the launch, said that the wide-scale use of the reactor, could translate into big savings for Jamaica.
Meanwhile, Bishop Phil Spencer, a former technician with the United States-based General Motors, commended the SRC for developing the system, pointing out that the US can benefit from the innovation.