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Young Kerala innovators convert water hyacinth into sustainable fuel

The four-member team of plan@earth. Image Credit: Special Arrangement

Four youngsters in Kerala have come out with a groundbreaking solution to combat the notorious water hyacinth, a persistent aquatic weed that has been plaguing lakes and rivers in the state. They have successfully developed an innovative technology to convert water hyacinth into a valuable resource, firewood, that can be used as an alternative to coal in various industries.

Mujeeb Muhammed, Sooraj Abraham, Gomathy Ramaswamy and Rasheed Ashraf of plan@earth have come out with their innovative approach to offer a solution to remove Water hyacinth from water bodies and offer it as a sustainable alternative to coal for the benefit of various industries. The four founded plan@earth, a not for profit organisation in 2009, to spread awareness about the need to preserve and protect the environment.

Currently they offer waste management and recycling services in five municipalities and six panchayats, catering to nearly 28000 households. “We are in discussions with various stakeholders for expanding our project. We have received a grant from HCL Foundation to conduct further research and development in our innovative solution. We are also in discussion with a few industries,” said Mujeeb Muhammed.

The innovation by the youngsters to tackle water hyacinth menace is a big welcome in Kerala as water hyacinth disrupts aquatic ecosystems, hampers fishing activities, obstructs navigation, and affects the overall health of water bodies. The innovative process developed by the group involves carefully harvesting the water hyacinth and drying it to reduce moisture content. The dried material is then compressed using a proprietary technique to convert it into firewood logs.

As per the details, the processing unit being developed by the four has the capacity to make 1.5 tonnes to three tonnes of firewood logs from water hyacinths and it will be less expensive than normal firewood. The innovative technology offers a sustainable alternative to coal known for its harmful emissions.

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