Q: What do human poop, fuel cells, clean energy and Bill Gates have in common? A: a $1.5 million grant to Columbia University professor Kartik Chandran. He is to develop a “Next-Generation Urban Sanitation Facility” in Accra, Ghana along with Waste Enterprisers and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. The project will turn fecal sludge into biodiesel and methane. Gross, isn’t it?
Around 2.1 million people worldwide currently depend on sewage solutions used since ages that have septic tanks, storage devices or the water supply. Now, everyone knows fecal matter in water only means illness, and that’s the reality for $1.8 million people who die each year from water-transmitted diseases.
“By training tomorrow’s engineers in sustainable approaches to ‘resource and energy recovery’ rather than ‘wastewater treatment,’ a sea-change can be achieved in the way we perceive of and manage human waste. In fact, the term ‘wastewater’ is already archaic. Wastewater is, after all, just water with a different chemical and biological composition,” said Prof. Chandran.
The project that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested in is going to give Ghanaian people a reason to better take care of their fecal sludge by transforming it into clean energy, and is also going to make waters cleaner, reducing the number of deaths in that country.