Teenage boy in Kenya makes stoves powered from human waste

3rd March 2015 We have heard recently in the news about many successful biogas innovations using human waste. In Nigeria, three teenagers came up with a power generator that produces enough electricity for six hours, and in Rwanda, the prison system has used human waste mixed with cow dung and water to reduce running costs.

The waste to fuel movement is now in Kenya, where a teenager, Leroy Mwasaru has come up with his own invention.

Leroy’s school in eastern Kenya faced a sewage problem after a tractor clearing the site for a new dormitory at the local school encountered pit latrines. This caused waste to leak into the stream which was the main source of water for the town.

In addition, the school was using firewood in the kitchens, rapidly depleting nearby forests because of the demand for smoke. There was also the health issue of the smoke affecting the lungs and eyes of the cooks.

All these factors inspired Mwasaru to come up with an invention to use human waste to power the gas stoves.

Of course he faced criticism, and is quoted as saying “There were some people who thought it would not work, the attitude was very negative, we came up with workshops in the school and in the community to convince people, and the response became more positive.”

It took about a year for the “Human Waste Bioreactor” to go from idea to working facility. However, the innovation is now helping homes in the community and will be tested on a larger scale.

The reactor could potentially replace as much as 196 tonnes of wood, which of course is beneficial to the local ecosystem.

Leroy is still working on fine tuning his ideas and is listening to professionals such as David Moinina Sengeh, an MIT researcher and president of Global Minimum, a group which works with young people to help them realize their new and change making ideas.

David Sengeh says about Leroy, “What motivates him is to solve problems that currently affect others in his community, His curiosity to explore and learn from doing within a motivation to bring broader social change is something that we hope to see”.

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