AbstractsBiology & Animal Science

Valorization of water hyacinth as a renewable source of animal feed and biogas: a business case for Lake Victoria, Kenya:

by V.A. Valk

Institution: Delft University of Technology
Year: 2015
Keywords: water hyacinth; biomass processing; canvas business model; biogas; animal feed; aquatic weed harvest
Record ID: 1258306
Full text PDF: http://resolver.tudelft.nl/uuid:415bce32-3782-49ba-99ce-1a433d826143


This thesis is conducted for Royal IHC and Witteveen+Bos. Royal IHC is a Dutch ship builder and Witteveen+Bos an engineering consultant. Both companies have encountered the problems of water hyacinth. Water hyacinth, Eichhorni Crasippus, is an aquatic weed which is widespread throughout the tropics and subtropics. It is an invasive species in most parts of the world and has a large impact on the local ecology, economy, livelihood and safety of people. Water hyacinth can be controlled by mechanical harvesting. Once the plant is harvested the biomass can be used as a resource. The aim of this research is to assess the potential value of the water hyacinth as a renewable resource and determine if it is economically feasible to process water hyacinth on an industrial scale, more than one hectare harvest a day. In order to assess the economic feasibility of water hyacinth usage, a literature study was conducted to evaluate the characteristics of the plant and define the processing options. Secondly a canvas business model and a cost-benefit analysis were made to assess the value chain and the theoretical feasibility of an investment in a large scale water hyacinth processing project. The final and third step was a business case based on a field trip to Kenya, to validate the theoretical business model and cost benefit analysis. Water hyacinth is a very fast growing plant which reproduces both sexually and vegetativly. The plant is so successful because it can adapt easily to its environment. The plant thrives in eutrophicated and polluted water bodies. In these water bodies heavy metals are taken up by the plant and these have to be taken into account for usage of the biomass. The biomass of water hyacinth can be used for three purposes 1) energy 2) agriculture and 3) industry. The biomass is least valuable when it is used for its minerals, for biogas and energy production. Based on the literature review it was found that water hyacinth can best be used for the production of 1) animal feed 2) biogas and 3) fertilizer. The business models for these three products were assessed because of the high value of the end products and the feasibility of production in developing countries. For the processing of water hyacinth into animal feed, the leaves and the roots should be separated as animal feed can only be produced from the leaves. The roots and shoots can be separated during harvest by specialized equipment. A business canvas was used to describe a business model for a company processing water hyacinth. The business models can vary because the location and water bodies where the weed grows are different. It was found that large scale processing is mostly feasible in big lake structures because of the availability of biomass. To evaluate if an investment in water hyacinth processing facilities is feasible the Net Present Value (NPV) was calculated. From the theoretical cost benefit analysis it could be concluded that water hyacinth processing is feasible for the production of animal feed, biogas and fertilizer. The…