A research and development project of the Thailand Institute of Science and Technological Research (TISTR), the mini biogas unit covers a space of one square metre, roughly the size of a refrigerator or washing machine.
TISTR researcher Patthanant Natpinit said used cooking oil, food waste and wastewater from sinks can be loaded in a bucket to be processed into gas, and the unit uses 15 kilogrammes of waste a day.
Food waste must be chopped into small pieces, and bones cannot be used.
The mini biogas unit can produce methane gas after a week or two of fermentation and blending with microorganism powder.
The methane gas can replace half the normal cooking gas used in the average household, said Ms Patthanant.
Made of stainless steel, the mini biogas unit is priced at about 50,000 baht, but Ms Patthanant said the material could be changed to fibreglass or plastic, which would cut the price by about 60 percent to 20,000 baht.
The invention is designed to be connected easily with stoves.
“Commercial production may be viable, as the government is serious about floating the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) by 67 percent to 30 baht per kilogram, up from the 18.13 baht per kilogram that has been the cap for household consumers so far,” said Ms Patthanant.
The state Oil Fund has been subsidising LPG prices since 2008 at a cost of 100 billion baht as of this past July.
The Energy Policy and Planning Office expects the amount will double in a few years.
Ms Patthanant said the biogas unit will not only reduce waste but also lower cooking gas bills.
“Germs and pollution from waste will be turned into biogas, while household consumers could cut their cooking gas expenses in half,” she said.
Each household would use up a 15-kilogram cylinder in three months on average.
Most biogas production now is limited only to large-scale efforts such as large canteens, food processing production plants and large livestock farms and needs organic waste of more than 500 kilogram daily.
The biogas production unit is also designed for large-scale use, but it can produce hydrogen, which is more efficient than conventional biogas.
The TISTR successfully invented the mini biogas production unit in 2006 and patented it in April 2010.
It later established contact with the private sector to find investors.
The TISTR will showcase the innovation at Investor Day tomorrow, organised by the National Science and Technology Development Agency.