In early January 2013, Kenya’s oldest English-language school, the Maseno School, opened new dormitories for 720 students, and it had a couple of problems. Pit latrines and a faulty sewage system inevitably left foul odors and polluted local freshwater sources, while the kitchen used firewood for cooking fuel—unhealthy for cooks and the environment alike. So, as Grist reports, Leroy Mwasaru, now 17, and four of his friends had an idea: to harvest poo and other waste and turn it into a safe, clean and eco-friendly source of cooking fuel.
What Mwasaru and his friends proposed was to build a Human Waste Bioreactor (HWB) that would harvest not only the waste from all the students in the dorm, but also organic waste from the kitchen, cow dung and slashing grass to create biogas for cooking fuel. As Grist explains, the HWB is “an underground chamber holds the human, animal, and kitchen excrement, while microorganisms go to work breaking down the muck. This process releases biogas, a source of renewable energy comprised mostly of methane, the same as the fossil fuel natural gas that powers most non-electric stoves in the U.S. The gas is contained in the HWB, ready for use as fuel.”
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