Poo Water Being Transformed Into Biodiesel, Methane For Poor African Communities

While many scientists agree that Africa is the likely cradle of mankind, these days the whole continent is something of a mess. Rife with war, famine, poverty, and disease, Africa can use all the help it can get. And thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a new refining process that turns fecal waste into usable biodiesel and methane has opened its first production plant in Ghana.

Poop is a problem for much of Africa’s population, as many countries and areas lack adequate waste collection services. This leads to overflowing latrines and toilets, making the spread of deadly dieseses a certainty. Ghana-based Waste Enterprisers, in conjunction with Columbia University and Kwame Nkrumah University, has used the aforementioned $1.5 million to set up a waste collection agency that doesn’t dispose of poo-water, but rather converts it into usable fuels. This kills (or rather, saves) two birds with one stone, as about 85% of fecal waste collected is just dumped back into the environment, untreated. A little untreated poo never hurt anyone, but when you’re talking on a scale of hundreds of millions of people, with little to nothing in the way of environmental regulations protecting them, well, its a situation that can (and is) out of control.

But by converting that fecal matter into fuel for cars, buses, and industries, Waste Enterprisers is able to collect poo-water from locals, free of charge, and then sell them a locally-made fuel product. It’s business meets sustainability, so long as they can turn a profit. And if they can turn a profit, it could be the start of an entirely new industry in Africa with huge, positive repercussions across the continent. It’s a business plan that could be developed anywhere in the developing world, and it could save many, many lives…while still making a buck.

Could we all one day be driving cars powered by poo-gas? Sounds crazy, but it is pretty much the ultimate in sustainable fuels. After all, everybody poops.

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.