Sanergy toilet in Kenya

Photograph courtesy Sanergy

Great Energy Challenge Innovator: Sanergy

Project: Turning waste into energy in Nairobi's informal settlements

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Summary: Sanergy makes hygienic sanitation accessible and affordable in Africa's informal settlements. Starting with the slums of Kenya, where 8 million people resort to open defecation and unsanitary pit latrines and where 4 million tons of waste is dumped in nearby rivers. Sanergy's "build -- collect -- convert" approach solves the sanitation crisis in a sustainable manner. Our low-cost Fresh Life Toilets provide users with a hygienic and dignified experience. We franchise Fresh Life Toilets to local residents, who run them as viable businesses. We then collect the waste daily and convert it into renewable energy and organic fertilizer.

The Great Energy Challenge is funding the second step in Sanergy's renewable energy operation. This includes the installation and operation of an anaerobic digester and combined heat and power (CHP) system. The system will generate electricity using human waste from Sanergy toilets as the primary feedstock. Sanergy will use the electricity to power its toilet fabrication operation, removing dependence from non-renewable energy sources. Further, this project will pilot this system to inform the next step of scaling power generation capacity for sale. (See a video about Sanergy's work on YouTube.)

Goal: To increase the amount of power generated from renewable sources to remove Sanergy's operational dependence on non-renewable energy sources, and to pilot an innovative electricity production system for eventual sale to the Kenyan national grid and local businesses.

Project Participants:

Sanergy: Becky Auerbach, partnerships; David Auerbach and Ani Vallabhaneni, co-founders

The Great Energy Challenge grant program, in collaboration with a distinguished group of scientists acting as the board of advisors, awards roughly a half-dozen grants per year. The goal of the grant program is to hasten the growth of promising, global energy solutions as a response to climate change, energy resource constraints and environmental limitations.

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