Diesel Engine Run on Gobar-Gas and Honge Oil

This project has been implemented in 2004. Masons trained by NERD—a Coimbatore based NGO--built a 3 cubic meter per day gobar gas plant. A Kirloskar 8 BHP engine coupled to a 7.5 KVA alternator was procured from Bangalore. An innovator from Puttur, with experience in modifying the engine to suite alternative fuels helped us to carry out the minor changes required and to start up the engine. The system is in operation since June 2004 running a 1.5 HP open well submersible pump, a 0.5 HP centrifugal pump and two grinding mills of 0.5 HP each. Its special feature is that we can use it when there is low solar power availability and that without the use of fossil fuel.

Some operational details are available in the attached article that appeared in The Deccan Herald*. Additionally, some experimental data is given below:

8 bhp, 7.5 kva Kirloskar diesel genset run at 18-19 amps load (full load
current is 32.6 amps)

When run on diesel alone: 1.67 liters/hr.
When run on honge oil alone: 1.82 liters/hr.
When run on honge oil+gobar gas: 1.45 liters/hr, which represents a saving of 20% over the use of honge oil only. We should
be able to improve on this with better management. Experiments are on.
At present, honge oil cost is working out as follows:
10kg of honge seeds @ Rs. 8/kg costs: Rs. 80
Crushing charge @ Rs. 3/kg : Rs. 30
Total cost for 10 kg of seeds: Rs. 110
Out-turn: 2 kg. of honge oil.
Less value of honge cake, 8 kg. @ Rs. 6/kg: Rs.  48
Net cost: Rs.  62 (Rs. 31/kg or Rs. 28/liter @ 0.9 kg/liter)
+ Transportation of 300kg seeds and 60 liters oil to and from Thalli (Rs. 120 or Rs. 2/liter).

Net landed cost = Rs. 30/liter.
Cost of diesel is Rs. 31/liter.

The gas flow rate as measured by a flow meter is 10 liters/minute = 600 liters/hr = 0.6 cubic meters per hour.
Assuming a calorific value of 4500-cal/cubic meter, we are using 4500x0.6 = 2700 kcal/hr.
Diesel calorific value is 10,000 kcal/liter.
Hence 2700 kcal/hr is approximately equal to 0.25 liters of diesel.

The project costs are given below:

  1. 8 BHP Engine- Alternator set with vibro-mounts and modifications: Rs. 45,000
  2. 3 cubic meter/day gobar gas plant with piping: Rs. 15,000
  3. Engine room (to be completed): Rs. 15,000
  4. 1.5 HP pump, cabling, piping, earthing etc.: Rs.15, 000    


Total: Rs.90,000

Wind Turbine

We were thrilled to read from a newspaper report that SIDILU Renewable Energy of Bangalore had developed an indigenous roof top turbine of 400 watts generating capacity and soon had one installed at Navadarshanam. But three months and two replacements later, we were still getting any power out of the turbines even though they rotated in wild frenzy in the strong wind. We have managed to get the manufacturer to give our money back and this chapter is now closed.

We have since explored the possibility of installing a 1.5 KW Wind-Solar Hybrid System that should cost about 2 lacs of rupees. If we were to go through TEDA, we would be eligible for 50%, (possibly 75%), subsidy but then the billed value would be jackedf up to Rs. 4 lacs and the 50% subsidy would be siphoned off by middlemen leaving us to pay up the original amount. Besides, the MNES subsidy drill was such a distasteful prospect. What is more, we have no reliable wind speed data for our site; C-WET—a  govt. agency carrying out wind mapping all over the country—showed little interest in covering our relatively low velocity location.

A friend, Venkatesh Iyer of Palakkad, doing his PhD in Delaware, suggested, instead, a 200-watt Chinese wind turbine, designed for low wind speeds and built in Inner Mongolia where thousands of these are in use. We have now decided to order one of these, which should be operational by July 2005.

The costs are likely to be as follows:

  1. 200 watt turbine with charge controller and mast, including import duty and clearance charges: Rs. 45,000.
  2. 1.5 KVA UPS and 2 150 AH tubular batteries: Rs. 20,000.
  3. Foundation, battery and inverter room, cabling, lightning arrestor, earthing etc.: Rs. 20,000.


Total: Rs. 85,000.

Auroville Wind Pump

Ananthu and Om had been to Auroville and ordered their AV55 Wind Pump in 2004 for installation at the bore-well on the North side of the land.However, we had to cancel the order because there was no protection from wild elephants at that time. The present price of the wind pump is over Rs. 2 lacs and since we do not see sufficient utilization in the near future, we have decided to postpone this project.   

Note prepared by O.P.Bagaria,


February 2005.     


Dear friends,

In the Times of India dated Dec, 8th, 2004, you might have read an article on the editorial page by Arun Firodia, Chairman of the Kinetic group of companies. In it, he suggests that we can rid ourselves of the dependency on imported LPG, kerosene, diesel and petrol by making use of our huge cow population (250 million) and huge wastelands (25 million hectares). Those of you who have read this article might have wondered - is this really possible? Is there really such a simple yet ecologically appealing solution to this problem of imported fuel which is causing such a drain on our resources? Well, at Navadarshanam, we have - under the able leadership of Om Bagaria, one of our Trustees - done some experiments on a small scale, and the results of these experiments indicates that the answer to the above question is a resounding YES. Let me share with you the essence of our findings:

Each cow that we have gives us, on an average,  enough methane gas for meeting cooking needs of two human beings. As you know, we get lots of visitors and guests- more than 2,500 have come this year. For them, and for the regular residents (nine of us), we have not had to use LPG in our common kitchen, but have depended on gobar gas from our 20 cows, in addition to our charcoal cooker and wood stove.We now have two gobar gas plants (each having a capacity of 3 cubic metres) in operation. From these, not only do we get enough gobar gas for our kitchen use, but also run a regular diesel engine (Kirloskar 9 hp model) using a combination of this gobar gas and honge oil. Honge is a tree that grows naturally and easily here, and its seeds are crushed to make this oil. A very minor modification to the inlet apparatus of the engine was all that was required to make the diesel engine run without diesel. Its efficiency has remained unaffected, and its pollution level has gone down. Each gobar gas plant cost us Rs.13,000/- to build. Apart from the methane, it also gives slurry as a by-product which we convert into excellent manure by mixing with bio-degradable matter (like kitchen waste, leaves etc.). The cost of this organic manure, if we were to purchase it in the open market, would be around Rs.15,000/- per year. Thus, we have been able to recover the cost of each gobar gas plant in less than one year. Those of you who have come to Navadarshanam recently have already seen the above experiment in action. We invite those who haven't to do so.

Honorary Secretary,Navadarshanam Trust