Compact Syngas Solutions (CSS) have pioneered a solution that will see Kenyan tea factories being powered by waste from tea production.

CSS has developed a gasification process that uses waste products to generate a syngas, a mix of hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide and monoxide. The syngas can be burned as a greener fuel, saving up to 2.8kg of carbon dioxide per litre of diesel, and up to 1.98 tonnes of carbon dioxide per tonne of fuelwood.

Carbonized biomass, for biochar, produced in the process can be applied to farmland to improve soil fertility and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as part of a capture and storage scheme, reducing the climate footprint of tea or generating income from emissions trading.

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) have quantified the removable stocks of tea pruning, identified supply chain operations and delivered costs to the factory, and built a model for assessing savings in energy bills and fuelwood demand. In a proof of concept field trial they found that recycling of biochar to plantations can boost tea yields by up to 23%, increasing fertilizer use efficiency and drought resilience.

Paul Willacy at the waste-to-hydrogen plant In Deeside, Wales

Each 500kWh plant will create jobs for up to ten skilled technical and operational workers with an extra ten workers in fabrication and support. 300 jobs should be created in Kenya within the first five years.

Once the project has proved its success in Kenya, it will expand to Malawi, Uganda and South Africa, before spreading across the world.

Compact Syngas Solutions’ gasification process generates syngas and hydrogen gas from waste products, including biomass like waste wood and other selected non-recyclable materials.

Compact Syngas Solutions, based in Deeside, Wales recently secured almost £4 million in government funding to make its biomass and waste to hydrogen plants even greener by using carbon capture.

Paul Willacy, managing director of Compact Syngas Solutions, said: “We’re going to provide energy security to the factories that process our tea, while reducing emissions, improving crop yields and bringing jobs to the country. We’re hugely excited about the impact this could have on the tea industry in Kenya and worldwide.”

Dr Dries Roobroeck, technical lead at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, said: “We’re always looking for innovative ways to improve crop yields, protect farmer livelihoods, and create sustainable farming systems, and this project ticks all these boxes. Gasification will also allow tea factories to reduce their carbon footprint and help global tea brands decrease their Scope 3 emissions. More reliable electricity will improve the quality of the final product – so the benefits will be felt all the way across to the consumer.”