Leave it to MIT geeks to figure out how to solve one problem (the need for a sustainable energy source) by solving another (insufficient sanitation). Sanergy, a company founded by a group of MIT grads and newly funded by USAID, provides low-cost toilets to sanitation-challenged communities in Kenya, then harvests the waste to convert into energy and fertilizer. It turns out you can polish a turd.
Sanergy hopes to install 6,000 toilets to serve 600,000 people, which will have a big effect on public health — in parts of Nairobi, the majority of residents use a plastic bag for waste disposal, which CANNOT be good for you. And processing the waste with anaerobic digesters will produce fertilizer and methane, which can be used for energy. That helps agriculture and the local economy. Basically, everyone wins, except the guy who has to transport the waste.
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