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Tibetans cooking with methane gas
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14:27, December 10, 2008

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More than 100,000 Tibetan households are now cooking with gas thanks to an environmentally friendly hole in their backyards.

Pits in which refuse is placed to ferment and produce methane are increasingly being used to meet the energy needs of families across the autonomous region.

Families of five can meet up to 80 percent of their cooking and heating needs courtesy of a pit measuring 0.5 m by 0.5 m and by 0.5 m.

With a potential to save a family about 1,000 yuan ($146) a year, it is estimated more than 100,000 Tibetan households are now making the most of methane gas.

The government began promoting the new fuel in rural areas in 2006 and plans to build 39,468 methane-generating facilities this year.

At the end of 2010, the figure is expected to reach 200,000 across the region.

Puqung, a farmer in Zongxia village in the Tibet autonomous region, uses a methane stove in the kitchen to prepare her family's breakfast.

"We used cow manure for cooking and heating before, but the smell it gave off was so bad I couldn't open my eyes."

The family's stove is now connected to a methane pit in the backyard.

Since the gas came online, the Puqung's kitchen has been much cleaner and much easier on the nose.

"Life is much easier since we don't have to collect livestock manure and firewood any more," Puqung said.

Like her family, almost all households in the large farming village are interested in building methane pits, covered holes in which waste ferments and creates useable gas.

"We are benefiting from the new fuel," Zon'gar, a villager, said.

"It turns waste into treasure."

A cleaner environment and economic profits have made methane pits increasingly popular in rural areas of Tibet.

Jo'nga Cering, an inspector of Tibet's agro-pastoral department, said the regional government has been researching a practicable method of using methane fuel in plateau areas.

"If we build a greenhouse on the methane pit, it ensures the required temperature for fermenting stalks and straws," Jo'nga Cering said. "It proves efficient."

Methane gas not only improves living conditions for farmers and herders it also saves coal and firewood, Jo'nga Cering said.

Source: Xinhua

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