Tag Archives: reuse

Waste not, want not: 8 surprising uses for your poo

Waste not, want not: 8 surprising uses for your poo. Source: Science Focus, Jan. 29, 2016.

Each day, we could be flushing millions of pounds in poop down our collective loos. Zoe Cormier examines eight ways the world can harness human waste.

Transport fuel

Methane is a simple product that can be created from human faeces. The main ingredient in the natural gas that is tapped from the ground before running throughout the national grid, methane heats our homes and cooks our food.


The gas is stored in the top of the Bio-Bus. Its CO2 emissions are around 20-30 per cent lower 
than those from diesel (© GENeco)

But it can also be produced in anaerobic digesters, in which microbes degrade food scraps and other organic material in the absence of oxygen. Methane can even be made straight from sewage.

To prove that ‘not everything we flush goes to waste’, the FirstGroup transport company is running the first bus in the UK powered by poo. The Bio-Bus – launched in March 2015 – uses biomethane provided from the GENeco waste recycling and renewable energy facility in Avonmouth. The 41-seater bus runs along the aptly named number 2 route that links Cribbs Causeway in north Bristol to the south of the city.

The innovative vehicle can run for up to 300 kilometres on one tank (the equivalent of five people’s annual flushes). If successful, and if riders approve of travelling on human emissions, the company hopes to roll out even more ‘poo buses’.

Read the complete article.

NG Explorer Digs Into a 4-Year-Old Latrine

Posted by Lauren Ward in Explorers Journal on May 2, 2012.

Three National Geographic Emerging Explorers have teamed up for a one-of-a-kind project in Africa.  Sasha Kramer of SOIL will integrate her group’s work transforming human waste into a valuable agricultural resource and Dino Martins’ natural pest control efforts into the farming communities in northern Benin where Jennifer Burney of SELF has installed solar powered irrigation systems. This collaboration is made possible by the Blackstone Ranch Institute which offers an annual challenge grant for the most innovative new projects proposed by two or more National Geographic Emerging Explorers.

Here are some highlights from the journey to date, written by SOIL visionary and Emerging Explorer Sasha Kramer for the official SOIL blog:

April 24, 2012 — Late last night and early this morning the SOIL team arrived safely in Cotonou, the capital of Benin, after a grueling journey across the world (more grueling for some than others).  Anthony Kilbride (one of the SOIL engineers) and I had relatively simple itineraries, flying from Port au Prince to Guadeloupe to France on directly on to Benin. Bobo Magloire, our Sanitation Director, on the other hand was unable to obtain a French transit visa (a common struggle for Haitians) and had to fly from Port au Prince to; Panama; Havana; Madrid; Casablanca; Lome; and finally to Cotonou – a journey which took nearly 55 hours!  Despite the challenging journey Bobo arrived in Benin looking as fresh as the moment he left Port au Prince.  In his words he “feels that he has come home to the land of his great great grandparents.”  Indeed, Benin was the birthplace of Haiti’s liberator Toussaint Louverture, who led the slave revolt which eventually defeated Napoleon’s army and made Haiti the first free black republic in the world, leading the way for the liberation of slaves around the globe.

Down the Toilet

April 25, 2012 — Today we had one of the highlights of our professional careers, or at least it was one of my finest hours.  In an attempt to demonstrate the possibility of converting human waste into compost the SOIL team, together with our hosts ADESCA, paid a visit to the local primary school.  But this was not your usual school visit.  We were looking for proof that human wastes can be transformed into soil, and what better place to find that proof than deep in the ground in an old latrine.

Sasha and Bobo descend into the Great Unknown. Photo courtesy of Sasha Kramer.

Because the conversion of poop to soil can take at least a year, and we are only here in Benin for 3 weeks, we thought the best way to show that the process works would be to excavate an old latrine that had been closed for at least one year.  After some research we learned that the local primary school had a set of latrines that have been sealed for the past 4 years.  We went out on a limb and did something that we have never tried before, climbing down into a latrine and digging in to see what sorts of riches might await us.

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Marketing Human Excreta: A Study of Possible Ways to Dispose of Urine and Faeces

Marketing Human Excreta: A Study of Possible Ways to Dispose of Urine and Faeces from Slum Settlements in Kampala, Uganda, 2011. E Schroeder, Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

Some key findings include: High sociocultural barriers associated with handling and using human excreta as fertilizer exist; sensitization does change people’s perceptions and behaviors considerably; and economical tools like the incentives applied in this study are helping to change people’s perceptions and behaviors.

Human Waste to Revive Haitian Farmland?

Community toilets can yield nutrient-rich fertilizer. A new type of public toilet is helping people in Haiti make fertilizer from human waste, a project that may someday revive the country’s degraded farmland, curb disease, and create jobs.

Since 2006 the U.S. nonprofit Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) has been installing public toilets in Haiti, where 80 percent of the population has no access to sanitation.

Drums from the public toilets sit at a composting site in Haiti. Photograph courtesy Sasha Kramer, SOIL

Most Haitians are forced to dispose of their waste in waterways, plastic bags, or even abandoned buildings, according to SOIL. Any existing toilets are often poorly designed, with waste flushing straight into rivers or groundwater. (Related: “World Water Day Focus on Global Sewage Flood.”)

Such practices mean that human feces easily get into the water supply, which can cause waterborne diseases such as cholera, currently at epidemic levels in the country, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Global potential of phosphorus recovery from human urine and feces.

Chemosphere. 2011 Mar 21.

Global potential of phosphorus recovery from human urine and feces.

Mihelcic JR, Fry LM, Shaw R. SourceCivil and Environmental Engineering, University of South Florida, United States.

This study geospatially quantifies the mass of an essential fertilizer element, phosphorus, available from human urine and feces, globally, regionally, and by specific country. The analysis is performed over two population scenarios (2009 and 2050). This important material flow is related to the presence of improved sanitation facilities and also considers the global trend of urbanization.

Results show that in 2009 the phosphorus available from urine is approximately 1.68million metric tons (with similar mass available from feces). If collected, the phosphorus available from urine and feces could account for 22% of the total global phosphorus demand. In 2050 the available phosphorus from urine that is associated with population increases only will increase to 2.16million metric tons (with similar mass available from feces). The available phosphorus from urine and feces produced in urban settings is currently approximately 0.88million metric tons and will increase with population growth to over 1.5million metric tons by 2050.

Results point to the large potential source of human-derived phosphorus in developing regions like Africa and Asia that have a large population currently unserved by improved sanitation facilities. These regions have great potential to implement urine diversion and reuse and composting or recovery of biosolids, because innovative technologies can be integrated with improvements in sanitation coverage. In contrast, other regions with extensive sanitation coverage like Europe and North America need to determine how to retrofit existing sanitation technology combined that is combined with human behavioral changes to recover phosphorus and other valuable nutrients.

USA – EnerTech Transforms Sewage into Solid Fuel

Atlanta, Georgia-based EnerTech Environmental commissioned its first biosolids-to-renewable energy facility about 50 miles east of Los Angeles, California.

Designed to process over 270,000 wet tons of biosolids (household sewage) per year the Rialto SlurryCarb™ Facility will annually generate over 60,000 tons of renewable fuel, called E-Fuel, for the Southern California area.

E-Fuel produced by the facility is already being used by Southern California cement kilns to offset their coal use and will reduce annual local greenhouse gas emissions by over 80,000 tons.

The facility is a showcase for EnerTech’s patented SlurryCarb™ process. The process uses heat and pressure to remove water from sewage or other biowastes–such as manure or pulp–and transform them into a carbon dioxide-neutral, coal-like fuel.

Biosolids (processed sewage sludge) are a common and easily renewable waste that all communities produce and must manage. In the United States alone, over 7 million tons of biosolids are produced each year.

“This facility provides us with a local, sustainable, and environmentally friendly option for biosolids management,” says Mike Moore, Manager of Environmental Compliance and Regulatory Affairs for the Orange County Sanitation District. “Generating energy from biosolids is a smart solution for both biosolids management and energy generation. People around the country are taking notice.”

The Rialto SlurryCarb™ Facility is providing a long-term biosolids recycling plan for five Southern California municipalities. Customers include Orange County Sanitation District, The County Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, and the cities of Rialto, Riverside, and San Bernardino. In addition to providing an environmentally sustainable biosolids management solution for California, the facility is an important contributor to the California economy-creating over 20 green jobs for the surrounding Rialto area.

“This facility represents a major step in energy independence for Southern California,” says Ronald O. Loveridge, Mayor of Riverside. “By converting our biosolids to energy we are reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring a better future for our community.”

Website: www.enertech.com


India – Bangalore: Urine-treated Plants Yield Bigger Bananas

Bangalore, May 29: Nagasandra, a village 50 km from Bangalore in Doddaballapur taluk, isn’t any different from the hundreds of others surrounding it. But in a remote corner of this small village is a 1-acre banana plantation that has been part of a unique research project: a study on the effect of anthropogenic liquid waste on soil properties and crop growth. In lay-man terms, it is a study on how human urine can be used as fertilizer in agriculture.

G Sridevi, a second-year PhD student at the Department of Soil Sciences and Agricultural Chemistry, University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), GKVK, conducted a study on the effect of human urine on various crops under C A Srinivasa Murthy, professor at the department. Sridevi got the support of Prakash and his family, who own the plantation, to experiment on their field. However, her idea was met with resistance from villagers, who were unwilling to work with human waste. Along with an assistant, she adopted 150 banana plants of the 800 on Prakash’s plantation, and carried thousands of litres of urine from the village to the plantation.
Read More – Daijiworld