Rwanda harnesses volcanic gases from depths of Lake Kivu | Environment | The Guardian


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"The lake's potential to both enhance and destroy lives stems from its geography. Nestled on the border between Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, it sits at the highest point of the western arm of the Great Rift Valley. On the Congolese side, Mount Nyiragongo and Mount Nyamulagira have erupted in recent years, the former sending scalding tongues of lava into the lake in 2002. The seismic activity around the lake is responsible for the steady injection of volcanic gas into the water, where it settles in a dense saline layer more than 260 metres beneath the surface.

"To harvest the methane, heavy water is sucked up through a pipe to the barge, where the liquid and gases are separated. The gas then enters a "scrubber" that separates the methane and carbon dioxide. Ebinger said reducing the overall concentration of gas in the water was a positive move, but warned that more studies were urgently needed to assess the potential environmental impact, especially relating to the unused water and carbon dioxide pumped back into Lake Kivu from the barges.

"With so many projects, if you don't understand everything, you can solve one problem and create three more," she said.

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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