Control specialists swap UK greenhouses for African anaerobic digestors

Tomtech has been putting their technology to a new use, helping boost the circular economy in Kenya.

More frequently found in UK and European greenhouses, Tomtech's technology is helping control an anaerobic digestor that is turning waste into biofuel on one of Kenya's largest flower farms.

"Though we're more accustomed to helping create ideal growing conditions in greenhouses, our technology is just as adept at controlling other processes like anaerobic digestion," says Krzysztof Hernik, Managing Director of Tomtech.

Tomtech's T200 control system is more frequently used within multi-zone greenhouses where it automatically alters heating, ventilation, irrigation, fertigation, and other factors which affect growth.

The system monitors conditions using Tomtech's Environment Manager software and makes changes based on user-defined programming and variations in conditions.

However, for the first time, the T200 has now been used to control the functions of an anaerobic digestor operated by the Kenyan company Grants Bio-Tech.

Anaerobic digestion is the process in which organic matter, such as animal or plant waste, is broken down via bacteria in an oxygen-free tank to produce biogas.

Grants Bio-Tech design, manufacture and install anaerobic digestors, which they state help create energy independence and a cleaner environment.

"Kenyan horticulture, particularly the cut flower industry, produces high levels of bio waste, which can be a problem, but that also offers an opportunity for clean and sustainable energy where it's needed most," says Paul Hodson, Director of Grants Bio-Tech.

"The Tomtech system has given us better, safer control of the digestion process, and we are already seeing increased gas production as a result," adds Paul.

The anaerobic digestor has been installed at Bohemian Flower Farm, which is located near the town of Naivasha and is one of the largest in Kenya, with over 3,500 employees.

A large town in Nakuru County, around 90km northwest of the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, Naivasha is a popular tourist destination known for the Hells Gate National Park, which was the inspiration for a number of locations in Disney's 'The Lion King.'

Kenya's economy is heavily reliant on agriculture and horticulture, which employs over 500,000 people, including around 100,000 on flower farms that produce flowers, including roses, carnations, and alstroemeria.

"Naturally, we jumped at the chance to support a project which helps create sustainable energy. The circular economy is increasingly important to developing communities that can benefit from renewable energy," concludes Krzysztof Hernik, Managing Director at Tomtech.

Tomtech was established in 1986 and provides everything needed to create, monitor and maintain the perfect growing conditions in commercial greenhouses.

Their adaptive systems are used throughout the UK and further afield to support the horticulture of almost every type of crop grown in glasshouses.

This is one of the first times their technology has also been used to control anaerobic digestors, but more projects are planned both in the UK and Africa.

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