BRAC, founded in Bangladesh, is an international NGO (non-governmental organization) working to alleviate poverty in the developing world through the provision of financial access to the poor, entrepreneurship development, social enterprises and social services. In January 2011, BRAC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the municipality of Tongi (a town some 20 km north of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh) to implement a pilot project that entails the collection of solid waste from Tongi municipality and digesting it in an anaerobic digester to be designed and constructed by BRAC. Figure 1 illustrates an overview of an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant treating solid waste.
BRAC Bangladesh tasked Mashrur Chowdhury, an environmental engineering co-op student from the University of Waterloo, to conduct a literature review of conventional AD systems and establish a feasible option for treating the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (MSW) in Dhaka.
This case study seeks to demonstrate the application of anaerobic digestion in solid waste management. After completing the case study, students will be able to identify: the advantages and disadvantages of conventional anaerobic digestion systems used in solid waste treatment from technical, financial and environmental standpoints; how anaerobic digestion is used to manage solid waste; its benefits as a means of solid waste management and the microbial processes involved in anaerobic digestion. The main learning objectives are to be able to conduct a thorough qualitative analysis and understand how socioeconomic and environmental factors affect decision making in the context of a real engineering project.