Waste Wonderland

Joseph, Sanergy’s chemical engineer focused on waste conversion, has been known to walk around the Sanergy house asking aloud, “Where can I find 137 barrels of crap?” Now, a little context for you: His challenge this summer has been to identify the best methods to use the waste from Sanergy’s toilets. So far, his search has focused on three processes: composting, biodigestion and pyrolysis.

Joseph (in middle, black sweatshirt) with Team Sanergy at our pilot site in Kibera

Last week, Joseph made headway in composting our waste. Through conversations with farms and distributors, we have a very clear sense of how we can produce this at scale in Kenya, including ideal conditions, bonus bacteria that expedite the process, and the ideal amount of waste needed. We’re also excited to learn from our friends at SOIL in Haiti in the coming weeks!

Yesterday, Joseph headed to Naivasha – an hour north of Nairobi – to meet with a flower farm. Kenya is one of the world’s leading producers of flowers. Indeed, just last year, the BBC ran a story on how the volcanic ash from Iceland temporarily decimated the Kenyan flower industry. These flower farms represent a great opportunity for Sanergy – a high-volume crop that grows rapidly and frequently. We had met with them before, and now we returned with even more detailed questions: What are their needs? What are their concerns? What’s their interest level? All in all, the meeting went exceptionally well.

Next week, Joseph is off to Western Kenya to visit our Echoing Green friends at Re:Char, who are leading the way in creating biochar, which, when added to soil, improves the soil’s quality and enables  it to hold more water. This comes off the heels of a three-day hands-on seminar in Berkeley, CA with All Power Labs. Biochar has the potential to be a game-changer for agricultural communities, and we’re excited to learn more.

But, back to the original question – where to get all that crap? At today’s staff meeting, it was resolved: Joseph is going to build us a composting toilet for the backyard at our new house. One thing you can assuredly say about Team Sanergy: we are committed to our product.

  • Lol! When I was feeling dumb for getting us onto the wrong San Francisco Muni bus, headed AWAY from Golden Gate Park instead of toward it, Joseph said, “shit happens.”

  • If you need all that crap faster than the Sanergy team can produce it (no comment on how well you all produce crap), you could contact some of the many “exhausters” rolling slowly around NBO. They either have to pay a good deal to dump legally (a figure I used to know) or, as often happens, run the risk of dumping illegally. Either way, if you want it, I’m sure they’d be willing to give you a lot of crap.

    I love this industry!

  • we run our tests on pig poop. Its readily available for free and they’re just another mid-sized mammalian omnivore! the only down side is that it really does smell like crap. good luck with your tests.

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