Recycled Human Waste Providing Biogas To Haitians.
WFMY News 2, Greensboro, NC. March 22, 2010.

"Port au Prince, Haiti -- A desperate lack of toilet facilities is one of
the many public health issues left behind by Haiti's devastating earthquake
in January.

Experts say the accumulation of human waste poses a major health risk
although one Brazilian non-governmental group is using the crisis to show
what's possible with modern technology. They are turning the excrement into
biogas for use as fuel.

The Kay Nou camp is one of many to have flourished in the Haitian capital
Port-au-Prince since the devastating earthquake of January 12. The camps are
absorbing many of the estimated one million people made homeless by the
quake. But the homeless in Kay Nou are luckier than most. Their camp is
equipped with a public toilet and a biodigester managed by the Brazilian
organization Viva Rio.

Locals are invited to provide the raw material and in exchange they get
biogas, water and fertilizer, all in all, a cleaner environment.

Valmir Fachini, the project manager who experimented with the system in
Brazilian slums, describes the process; "The first process is hydrolysis.
The second process is a process of acidogenesis, acetogenesis. And the third
process is methanogenesis which is a bacteria present in all beings with
warm blood. Then the scission starts and the production of biogas starts.
Because the biogas is lighter than air it comes at the top of the system, in
the biodigester, and can be taken out right away to be used."

The gas is used in the communal kitchen a few blocks away.

Fachini said the process is adaptable to all situations. A family of five
can produce three to four cubic meters of biogas per day, the equivalent of
one hour's worth of gas, Fachini said. When 400 to 500 people contribute,
they can produce up to 50 cubic meters and provide gas throughout the entire

Fachini said the main difficulty is overcoming preconceived ideas about
human waste and to change the way we use energy.

Fachini and Viva Rio came up with the idea after the 1992 Environment
Conference in Rio de Janeiro. Looking for ways to put into practice
environmental theories, Viva Rio brought biodigestors to slums with the aim
of transforming red zones into green ones.

Today, there are more than 200 biodigesters in Brazil, more in Nicaragua and
even in Spain.

The biodigesters produce 90% of water and 10% of bio-energy of which 70% of
biogas and 30% of biomass. One unit costs about $33,000, Fachini said.

The biodigesters also provides a clean environment with the elimination of
waste and the possible diseases linked to poor hygiene.

After the earthquake, interests in Viva Rio's biodigestors has grown with
U.S. Aid, Red Cross and others showing interest, Fachini said.

The water produced as a byproduct during the process is rich in nutrients
and is used to enrich the soil supporting a small farm in the camp. On the
roof of one building still standing, Viva Rio volunteers proudly cultivate
mangoes, cabbage, potatoes, carrots and peppers.

Little by little, they say, locals are catching on to the benefits of
thinking green and realizing how the call of nature can help the community."

Dr. Ann C. Wilkie                          Tel: (352)392-8699
Soil and Water Science Department          Fax: (352)392-7008
University of Florida-IFAS
P.O. Box 110960                         E-mail: [log in to unmask]
Gainesville, FL 32611-0960
Campus location: Environmental Microbiology Laboratory (Bldg. 246).
BioEnergy and Sustainable Technology Society