The problem

In most developing and newly industrialised countries, raw milk is not cooled at farm level. As a result, quality of (evening) milk is lost because it doesn’t survive the heat overnight. And low quality (evening) milk is rejected by collection centers. While there is a growing domestic demand for milk of higher quality and larger quantities (FAOSTAT, 2014), 85% of the produced milk is not processed (IFC, 2014), and 30-50% goes to waste (Dutch Embassy Kenya, 2014). Here’s why: 85% of rural East Africa and 30-70% of rural Asia lacks access to a (reliable) power grid (WB, 2012). And there are no solutions available on the market to provide milk chilling at micro-scale, for farmers with up to 10 dairy cows, that run independently from the power grid. Leaving a huge opportunity to increase income for dairy farmers and to close the supply-demand gap.

The solution

The Biogas Milk Chiller provides off-grid biogas-powered milk cooling on-farm, allowing smallholder dairy farmers without access to electricity to store, deliver and sell the highest possible quality of raw milk and increase their income. This bottom-up approach is new to the dairy industry; instead of focusing on the top of the cold chain – the processors – we focus on filling the gap at the bottom, where the problem originates: at the dairy farmers. Our dream is that by 2025, milk spoilage by off-grid dairy farmers is something of the past; the Biogas Milk Chiller shall be a widely accepted link in the cold chain for emerging dairy sectors worldwide.

  • Off-grid; biogas-powered
  • Cooling capacity between 2.5 and 10 Liters; sufficient for >80% of all dairy farmers in East Africa
  • Cools fast: from 35ºC to 7ºC within 4 hours
  • Runs on any type of domestic anaerobic digester
  • Cools 7x faster than a household refrigerator
  • Affordable with milk payback scheme

Seven reasons why Biogas Milk Chilling is the key to an effective and sustainable dairy chain in developing countries

  1. Biogas milk chilling cools milk fast (meeting International standards) at farm level.
  2. Biogas milk chilling works independently from the grid: it always works.
  3. Biogas milk chilling saves time: instead of delivering milk twice a day, small dairy farmers can deliver once a day.
  4. There are over 100 million small farmers, who hold over 90% of the cattle in developing economies. Biogas milk chilling helps small dairy farmers to meet quality standards required to access the formal sector, which increases their income, increases milk supply and thereby ensures food security.
  5. Biogas milk chilling supports the transformation of the smallholder dairy sector in emerging markets from quantity- to quality-based performance, as milk cooling at farm level significantly increases milk quality.
  1. Biogas milk chilling is part of an integral, self-sustaining system: cows produce manure, which is fed into a biogas digester where it is converted into biogas and slurry. Biogas is used for cooking, cooling and other appliances. Slurry is used as high-quality organic fertiliser, increasing crop and cow fodder production, manure production, milk production, and ultimately income. Meanwhile, biogas reduces carbon emissions with 5-10 metric ton CO2-equivalent per user per year.
  2. Cooling at farm level will result in benefits to the dairy cooperatives and dairy processors: increased loyalty of members for milk delivery, increased intake of evening milk, reduced milk rejection, reduced electricity use for cooling milk, increased utilisation of installed processing capacity and improved quality of collected milk.

Together with our partners SNV, Mueller and BoPInc, SimGas is equipped to provide 750 Biogas Milk Chillers to smallholder dairy farms in East Africa in 2018. The aim is to prove that cooling milk on biogas is an efficient and affordable way to combat milk spoilage.

Biogas milk chillers, installed throughout Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia, will demonstrate the viability of our unique design, reliable technology and scalable business case. In 2015, SimGas completed testing of four working prototypes in two regions in Tanzania. These units proved that our technology enables 10L of milk to be cooled from 35ᵒC to 4ᵒC off-grid and within three hours (compared to 21 hours using an electric refrigerator). Remote sensing technology was paired with user feedback sessions to assess the performance and monitor the impact of the field test prototypes.

In parallel, the consortium investigated the market potential and assessed customer needs by partnering with local dairies and approaching smallholder farmers directly. Our engineers and designers are working feverishly to translate these insights into the first mass-produced Biogas Milk Chiller for smallholder dairy farmers. Our business development team is defining potential business models and assessing local viability in the existing dairy sector. Together, this ensures that the BMC will be part of a holistic solution for the improvement of the dairy chain.

Want to know more about our Biogas Milk Chilling project? Contact Jeroen or Dorine.

“By combining the knowledge of Mueller and SimGas we’ve been able to develop a biogas milk chilling system that meets European standards. It will enable farmers to raise their milk quality. And, it will enable us to deliver a high class product on the market. A great achievement all partners involved can be proud of!”

Peter Fopma, New Business Manager, Mueller

These partners work with us on this project:

BoPInc

BoPInc provides private enterprises with tailored inclusive business support to optimise cost and revenue. For institutional donors BoPInc develops eco-systems in BoP markets.

Visit BoPInc website

Mueller

Mueller is a Dutch for-profit multinational and is specialised in cooling equipment for milk, beer and pharmaceuticals with over 70 years of experience, and distribution in over fifty countries.

Visit Mueller website

SNV

SNV is an international not-for-profit development organisation. They find local, sustainable solutions to global challenges by sharing their expertise in agriculture, renewable energy, water, sanitation and hygiene.

Visit SNV website

This project is supported by: