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Methane fuel increasingly used in Tibet

October 6, 2008

Editor: Jiang Yuxia
Xinhua (Peoples's Republic China)
October 3, 2008

LHASA, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- Around 8 a.m., Puqung, a farmer in Zongxia
Village in China's Tibet Autonomous Region, turns on a methane stove
in the kitchen to begin preparing her family's breakfast.

Looking at the blue flame, she seems happy.

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

The family now has access to methane. A pipe connects the stove to a
methane pit in the backyard.

Since the innovation, the Puqung's kitchen has been clean.

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

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

"We are benefiting from the new fuel," Zon'gar, a villager said. "It
turns wastes into treasures."

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."

An eight-cubic-meter methane pit can provide 80 percent of the annual
cooking and heating energy used by a five-member family. That can
save a family about 1,000 yuan (146 U.S. dollars) a year.

It's estimated more than 100,000 Tibetan households now use methane gas.

The government began promoting the new fuel in rural areas in 2006.

This year, the government plans to build 39,468 methane generating
facilities. At the end of 2010, the figure is expected to reach
200,000 across the region.

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