"We are not only aiding waste management, we are creating a great alternative for wood."
“You don’t have to be an engineer or have some kind of a degree to create a machine that can potentially help thousands,” says 67-year-old Sukhdev Singh, a businessman based out of Mawana, Uttar Pradesh. Singh’s special knack for agro-based technology has led him to develop a unique innovation—logs made from cow dung!
“I have a factory near Meerut where we manufacture agricultural equipment, and I am always on the lookout for innovations in this field. About two years ago, on YouTube, I came across a video of a machine that could convert dry cow dung into strong wood-like logs and was immediately impressed. It meant changing waste into something very valuable while making sure of a positive impact on the environment by saving trees,” says Singh who re-created the machine, in his manufacturing unit, after some research on the internet.
The initial model did not have a gearbox but after some testing and feedback, Singh and his team built a full-fledged cow-dung-to-log-converter with a 5 HP electric motor and gearbox.
“First you sun dry the cow dung for 5 days and eliminate every trace of water from it— the dung needs to be loose like soil. Then, it is poured into the inlet for being pressed into a cylindrical wooden log-like structure. Depending on the requirement we can make adjustments on the size and shape of the log coming out of the machine. For now it can either be round or cylindrical.”
The screw mechanism in the machine allows for the mixing and compressing of the raw materials into moulds, the sizes of which can be adjusted based on the requirement. Once extruded out of the machine, the cow dung logs are then out to dry under the sun to eliminate any remaining moisture or odour.
The drying process ensures strength and sturdiness of the logs. Approximately, the machine can create logs as long as 3 feet, at a rate of one log per minute. What’s even better in this eco-friendly innovation is that one can also use the slurry from biogas units to make these logs by creating a combination of slurry and straw residue.
Singh adds that this cow dung log is as strong as wood and has many uses, especially as firewood.
Mohammad Gulfam is a dairy farmer in Meerut with 23 buffaloes and 7 cows, who produce as much as a quintal of waste everyday. Having bought his machine some 5 months ago, he says, “It’s a quite a blessing, because it helps use all of that waste in a sustainable manner. After drying the entire cattle waste, we get around 40 kg of dung everyday, which we convert into wood with this machine. Its extremely useful and every alternate day, all of that wood is sold out from our farm itself. I earn approximately Rs 8,400 monthly, just out of this cow-dung wood, and have already recovered half of the initial investment of Rs 80,000 for the machine!”
“People in urban areas often don’t realise but a majority of the Indian population in the rural areas still relies heavily on firewood. It is the main source of energy for them and there is a rising shortage. Even crematoriums depend on firewood for the last rites procedure. So by converting a readily available waste material into something so useful and valuable we are not only aiding waste management but also helping create a great alternative for wood. Additionally, unlike firewood that often requires other materials to burn longer, this cow dung log is slightly hollow to allow the passage of oxygen and therefore, highly combustible,” says Singh
Priced at Rs 80,000 inclusive of GST, the machine is run on electricity with minimal manual intervention.
“It’s high time people understand and adopt sustainable ways like this. Not just milk, cattle can actually be much more useful for its waste, especially in rural areas. We all in our big or small ways need to make a responsible contribution towards a zero-waste circular economy,” he concludes.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)