Photograph courtesy Sanivation

Great Energy Challenge Innovator: Sanivation

Project: Saving trees, lives, and water by recycling human waste

Location: Naivasha, Kenya

Summary: Sanivation is using modern business principles and simple technologies to deliver energy and sanitation services to the urban poor. Instead of charging high rates to install toilets, Sanivation installs toilets inside of people's homes for free and charges low monthly rates to service them, similar to a cell-phone business model. Unlike current practices of disposing waste in unregulated areas, Sanivation creates revenue by containing waste and transforming it into a clean burning charcoal substitute.

Sanivation uses simple transformation technologies, where human waste and other agricultural waste streams are combined to produce a solid biomass fuel. This improves living conditions and protects the environment. Sanivation's fuel saves 88 trees for every ton produced compared with traditional charcoal. Additional benefits include reduced cost for consumers and a fuel that burns longer and produces less smoke. Further, an in-home toilet helps to prevent environmental degradation as well as lower the risk of both diarrheal disease and sexual assault.

Sanivation plans to open new franchises and reach one million people over the next five years. There is the potential to actively create a market for waste in Kakuma Refugee Camp and Naivasha, Kenya. If done properly, waste will be seen as a resource more than a burden. With this perspective, waste recycling can help solve the energy crisis, save lives, and preserve the environment.

Goal: To transform human waste into a safe and clean alternative to charcoal

Project Participants: Andrew Foote, CEO; Emily Woods, CTO

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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