Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, says the new bio digester system at the Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea, which was built by the Scientific Research Council (SRC), proves that Jamaica can be a producer of technology rather than a mere consumer.
“As a Government we are pleased to see we are able to harness the innovative capacity of our people through the work of the SRC,” he said.
“In fact, we are at the stage where we must invest as a Government and as a people, in research and development,” he added, at the official handing over ceremony on Thursday (October 26).
The project involved the conversion of outdated waste treatment systems on the hospital compound into a bio digester septic tank.
It is the first of five new wastewater treatment systems that will be provided to hospitals across the island through $389.25 million in funding from the National Health Fund (NHF).
The technology, for which the SRC owns a utility patent, requires minimal maintenance and provides environmentally-friendly solutions based on anaerobic technologies. The system is efficient in treating residential, commercial and agricultural waste and is also a source of fertiliser and irrigation quality water.
Dr. Wheatley said the bio digester offers the possibility of converting treated waste into methane gas to provide fuel for the hospital. This, he said, is in keeping with the Government’s energy security strategy.
“What it is doing is showing us that what we consider to be waste… has real value. We are not only addressing a public health issue, we are not only addressing a waste management issue, but we are bringing to the fore, solutions that can be applied in real terms,” he argued.
“So, it is not all about fossil fuel that we import; it is not only about renewables being incorporated into our energy system, but the gas that is produced from waste can now be used to fire up the stove and can even go further to be used for heating within the hospital system,” he noted further.
Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, lauded Dr. Wheatley, whom he said “has been a champion of this cause.”
He said the construction of the bio digester system is a demonstration of inter-agency collaboration and “technology that works”.
“It is a signal that as a country and as a Government we are committed to ensure that we play our part,” Dr Tufton added.