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The Power of Water Hyacinth as a Renewable Energy Source


Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), an aquatic plant native to South America, first appeared in countries in Africa in the early 1900s. Scientists there dubbed it the “world’s worst aquatic weed”, after it spread from the Cape in the early 1900s and started clogging up major dams and rivers.

Water hyacinth has become a growing problem across Africa and the Middle East (AME). Infestations of this weed are reaching crisis proportions in important freshwater bodies of the region. This is causing environmental, economic, and social problems and accumulated damages that can easily be valued in the order of billions of dollars. It directly affects not only the riparian communities but also all those people who in one way or another depend on environmental services or production from the affected water bodies.

In east Africa for instance, the nefarious invader arrived with Belgian colonists in Rwanda, who liked the look of its glossy leaves and delicate purple flowers floating in their garden ponds.

But by the 1980s, it had slipped out of Rwanda via the Kagera river and made its way downstream to Lake Victoria.

There, with no natural predators and perfect temperature conditions, the plant began gobbling up open space, choking off fishing routes and providing a new habitat for disease-carrying mosquitoes. But for riparian , it has meant dwindling income, as the boats that once brought silver lake fish to shore by the hundreds struggled to navigate the clogged waters.

Water Hyacinth: Pain in the neck of coastal communities, residents

Water hyacinths plague Lagos' waterways

Water hyacinth is not widely present in West Africa. Some countries, such as Gambia, Guinea (Conakry), and Senegal, are, for practical purposes, still without the weed

How the problem has become a blessing

Thousands of acres of our lagoon, Rivers, Lakes and creeks have been covered by hyacinth. This has become a serious matter since it has a negative impact on the people around the lagoon and the natural ecosystems in the region. Now, water hyacinth can be used as a resource for renewable energy, which to us is environmentally friendly. Now, the problem has become a blessing. When the pest (water hyacinth – red) is used to produce renewable energy, now our lagoons will be cleaned, and the tourism potential around Oluwa and Alape river can be further developed as a place for water attractions and other new tourist attractions.

How to reduce the existence of gulma plants in Alape and Oluwa river? One of the creative innovations is to use hyacinth as a briquette fuel for industrial processing factories. Hyacinth is smashed into a powder, then processed with press machinery and broiled into wood pellets

Water Hyacinth Pellet or Briquette..

The whole water hyacinth is used, from the leaves to the roots. Freshwater hyacinth is chopped and put into the dryer machine. It takes 15 minutes to produce the pellets. The dryer installation capacity of 1 ton can dry out the water hyacinth within 20 minutes. The dry water hyacinth then is ready to be inserted in the pellet's mill

Utilizing this kind of energy source has a positive impact on the environment and socioeconomic situation of the surrounding communities. With the decline of hyacinth, the lagoon or river can be a beneficial source of water for the community.

Pellet or Briquette Production from Water Hyacinth

Market absorption or the existence of buyers of the products produced is very important for a production. Certain products are needed because it can be said that they are basic needs such as food, energy and so on.

Biomass fuel is a renewable fuel or energy source that is increasingly sought after and needed, especially by industry. Pellets and briquettes are products of biomass densification with use primarily as fuel or energy sources. With this compaction, handling, storage, transportation and use becomes easier, cheaper and safer.

As we all know, water hyacinth is an aquatic weed that harms the environment a lot, but how to use this waste so that it is beneficial or minimizes its environmental impact? Is compacting into a pellet or briquette an effective solution? And which is the best made pellet or briquette?

The Quantum Valley Water Hyacinth transformation project will provide job opportunities for the community and for the youth.

Project Details

July 29, 2022

Factory, Industry, Manufacturing

Ilaje Local Government

Quantum Valley