Take a 17-year-old Kenyan pupil, a school with a huge waste problem and a massive fuel shortage, and what do you get? In Leroy Mwaseru’s case you get a human waste bioreactor – a machine which solves the problem of both surplus waste and insufficient fuel, by quite literally turning the poop generated from his 720-sudent dorm into energy.
Through Innovate Kenya, a mentorship program of the non-profit Global Minimum Inc. (GMin) that fosters innovative ideas to solve local problems, Mwaseru and four fellow pupils at Maseno High School in Nyanza came up with the prototype after the school had clashes with the local community. This was due to its rampant deforestation for fuel, and the unpleasant smell coming from the pit latrine that was contaminating the local water supply.
The human waste bioreactor has an underground chamber where micro-organisms break down human, animal and kitchen waste. This releases bio-gas which is pumped into the kitchen of the oldest secondary school in western Kenya, and is used to cook food. Generating this safe source of methane fuel provides the school with KSh 3.92 million (the equivalent to nearly US$39,000) in gas savings over two years.
Founded in 1906 by missionaries as a centre for imparting technical knowledge for the children of African chiefs, the high-ranking Maseno School was originally set up to teach technical subjects such as carpentry, tailoring, printing building and telegraphy. Mwaseru’s next task? To introduce biohacking into his community.
Musonda is a self-proclaimed "person-fearing, animal-loving potential writer and eater of baked goods".
Leroy Mwaseru, Inventor, Human Waste Bioreactor