SuSanA - Forum Kunena Site Syndication Wed, 23 Apr 2014 08:50:18 +0000 Kunena 1.6 SuSanA - Forum en-gb Re: NEWgenerator for recovery of nutrients, energy and water from human wastes (University of South Florida, USA) - by: muench
In case you have been following this thread and are interested in this research project, then the upcoming webinar number 7 on “Adding missing links in sanitation value chains” could be interesting for you:

Daniel's presentation in this webinar is entitled:

A compact water recycling and energy harvesting system for off-grid public toilets in low-income urban areas: The NEWgeneratorTM anaerobic membrane bioreactor ready for field testing in India

The webinar will take place on:

Tuesday 29 April 2014, 16:30 - 17:15
(CET - Central European Time; time converter to find your local time:

More details of the webinar, which has 3 presenters, are available here on the forum:

There is no need to download any software to attend (simply go to this website: However, you must obtain the password to enter the room. To obtain the password, please e-mail me or use the "contact" button on the left side of this post.

I look forward to meeting you all at the webinar! If you have questions about the content of Daniel's research before the webinar, please put them here on the forum.



P.S. Pawan: Daniel told me by e-mail that he has seen your questions and will answer them soon.]]>
Resource recovery from excreta or faecal sludge Tue, 22 Apr 2014 09:38:17 +0000
Reinvent the Toilet Fair, Delhi - by: iaieropoulos
Please have a look at our videos taken at the highly successful Reinvent the Toilet Fair in Delhi in March 2014.

Interview with Elisabeth about my project as well as explanations about the exhibit - a functional prototype working with artificial urine:

Further explanations on microbioal fuel cells: how they work, how long they last, what they currently cost (questions asked by Arno Rosemarin):


P.S. Two photos from the exhibit at the fair for people who cannot view Youtube videos:

Microbial fuel cell stack that converts urine into electricity by Sustainable sanitation, on Flickr

Urinal that converts urine into electricity for mobile phone charging by Sustainable sanitation, on Flickr]]>
Resource recovery from excreta or faecal sludge Mon, 14 Apr 2014 13:07:06 +0000
Re: NEWgenerator for recovery of nutrients, energy and water from human wastes (University of South Florida, USA) - by: pkjha Congratulations for getting the proposal with Eram Scietific awarded last month by DBT/BMGF in Delhi. Your detail information on the system developed is highly appreciated. However, I have some queries.
What is biogas production rate i.e., volume of biogas(cft or cum) per day per user of toilet? What is minimum number of users of toilet per day required to make utilization of biogas for cooking and electricity purposes, economically feasible? What is the pore size of AnMBR? Is it sufficient only for Helminths or bacteria as well. What is frequency of clogging and maintenance/ repair of the AnMBR? How settle sludge from biodigeter plant is taken out and treated to make it pathogen free before using for agriculture / land use? I hope your experience with the above points will help a lot to Eram scientific to achieve the objectives of the present proposal. Regards Pawan]]>
Resource recovery from excreta or faecal sludge Sun, 13 Apr 2014 12:41:24 +0000
Re: NEWgenerator for recovery of nutrients, energy and water from human wastes (University of South Florida, USA) - by: danielyeh Stay tuned !

[The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention was founded in honor of Dr. James Robert Cade, professor of Renal Medicine and lead inventor of Gatorade, the World's most popular sports drink]]]>
Resource recovery from excreta or faecal sludge Fri, 11 Apr 2014 11:07:23 +0000
New paper on biogas enhancement with nanoparticles! - by: tonacho

Now working in a paper on continous mode.]]>
Resource recovery from excreta or faecal sludge Mon, 07 Apr 2014 09:42:56 +0000
Loowatt Selected as an Exhibitor for the Reinvent the Toilet Fair: India 2014 (PHOTOS) - by: vgardiner


Loowatt Selected as an Exhibitor for the Reinvent the Toilet Fair: India
Fair to Showcase Advancements that Improve Sanitation and Health

LONDON, UK – LOOWATT LTD. announced today that they will be an exhibitor at the Reinvent the Toilet Fair: India event which will be co-hosted by the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in March 2014. Loowatt Ltd. will showcase energy-generating waterless toilet technology that aims to help bring sanitation to those who need it most. The fair is also supported by the Indian Ministry of Urban Development.

The Reinvent the Toilet Fair: India aims to stimulate discussion and spur partnerships to improve global sanitation and bring affordable sanitation solutions to people who need it most. The fair is also an opportunity to recognize India’s leadership and commitment to improving child health and fostering innovative solutions to persistent development challenges.

Loowatt Ltd.’s project is one of approximately 50 exhibits that will be on display during the two-day fair. Loowatt’s waterless toilet system harnesses value from human waste by producing energy and fertilizer. The patented toilet packages human waste in a biodegradable lining material, which is then transported to an anaerobic digester for energy generation. The toilet on display at the fair is the new Loowatt Tsiky Toilet, which is stylish, lightweight and highly customizable. With easy transport and simple installation, the durable Tsiky Toilet is suitable for densely populated urban areas. This particular toilet is customized with an electric button flush and a white outer shell.

In addition, Loowatt is introducing the new Loowatt Event System, a mobile system designed primarily for festivals and events. The environmentally friendly system provides off grid toilets and human-waste-derived energy with rapid setup and removal. The Loowatt Event System will be unveiled in summer 2014 in the UK. This project is accomplished with support from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board.

“Of the 1.1 billion people who defecate in the open, almost 60 percent are Indian,” said Professor K. VijayRaghavan, secretary of the Indian Department of Biotechnology. “Sanitation solutions using the latest technology need not be complex or driven by expensive gadgetry, but they need to be innovative and address the many aspects of this multifaceted problem.”

“Today, because of a lack of toilets and poorly functioning infrastructure, massive amounts of untreated waste winds up in the environment, spreading disease,” said Brian Arbogast, director of the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We are privileged to host the Reinvent the Toilet Fair: India with our partners to advance conversations about sanitation – it is a testament to the Indian government’s commitment to improving how we deal with this pressing problem.”

Note: attendance at the fair is by invitation only. No further invitations will be extended.

Media Contact:
Kaitlin Zhang
Communications Manager
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
+44 (0)20 8671 2366

Resource recovery from excreta or faecal sludge Mon, 24 Mar 2014 10:22:29 +0000
Re: NEWgenerator for recovery of nutrients, energy and water from human wastes (University of South Florida, USA) - by: muench


Daniel also came to the small SuSanA meeting we had in Delhi yesterday together with his PhD student who will do the work on the field trials. (myself or the SuSanA secretariat will provide more feedback about this SuSanA meeting this week; it was a meeting with the aim to bring together BMGF grantees with Indian practitioners on the ground)

The demonstration will be in Kerala, India. Daniel said he will describe more once they have things more finalized with the grant arrangements.

Eram Scientific, the company that is implementing and operating these public "e-toilets" is by the way the not-for profit arm of the larger Eram Group. The anaerobic membrane bioreactor that Daniel's team has been working on will treat the effluent from the "e-toilets" to a high standard for reuse (the toilets are conventional flush toilets). The intended application would be for water-scarce urban areas in India.

Eram has about 400 of these public toilets installed mainly in Kerala (one of the wealthier states of India in the South); normally their public toilets are connected to conventional systems, i.e. sewer (and hopefully treatment plant at the end of the sewer) or septic tanks and maybe DEWATS in some cases (I am not sure on that one will check with Bincy).
They also have about 100 of them in schools in Kerala. What is mainly novel about them is the stainless steel fabrication in a container as well as the very high emphasis on "automated cleanliness" (e.g. automated floor cleaning - with the downside of having a higher water consumption).

Daniel, Bincy: please correct me if I got any of the facts wrong.

Resource recovery from excreta or faecal sludge Mon, 24 Mar 2014 04:49:37 +0000
Re: NEWgenerator for recovery of nutrients, energy and water from human wastes (University of South Florida, USA) - by: danielyeh and USF's NEWgenerator (this thread) was selected one of six winning entries for the Reinvent the Toilet: India Challenge. We will be working to demonstrate closed-loop, off-grid, sanitation in a slum in India this coming year.

Resource recovery from excreta or faecal sludge Sun, 23 Mar 2014 15:44:02 +0000
Re: Faecal sludge to biodiesel (Columbia University, USA and Kumasi, Ghana) - by: timwikoff
Thank you for the questions about the biodiesel research. I would like to address your questions in this reply but I'm also attaching some financial analysis of the revenue streams and operating costs. You will notice on the assumptions tab that you can manipulate the various revenue scenarios to explore which combination of endpoints makes sense in the Ghanaian context.

You will see on the summary tab some high level observations - I would be interested in your feedback and questions after you have a chance to experiment with the model. Please note that this exploration focused on the revenues and opex primarily because our research indicated that the challenges present in Cost of Goods Sold were the main bottleneck to profitability. Based on our research the capex would also be significant but there is grant money available to cover these expenses if one were able to build a profitable/sustainable operating model, which you will see proves tougher than we might have thought.

Feedback on your questions:
To what extent does a demand for biodiesel exist in Ghana?
Based on our research there is no extra demand or premium for biodiesel. However, we did define with several potential buyers that if we were to hit the Ghana Standards Board quality certification for biodiesel and we sold at or below the price for traditional diesel we would have a market vastly larger than our production capacity. This was primarily based on demand from the mining industry and the need for many companies to run backup electricity systems on diesel generators.

Are the local technologies able to be fed with biodiesel instead of fossils?
Yes. The mining industry possesses all the necessary technology without need for modification. Also as a tropical country, any of the cold weather issues experienced in the north are not a problem in Ghana.

You mentioned that you would like to set up a social business model that aims at financing and incentivising complete urban sanitation.
I represent Waste Enterprisers, a local partner on this project. It is our stated corporate mission to validate and replicate profitable models of resource recover in order to finance urban sanitation in SSA in a completely new way. The ultimate goal of the research was commercialization but you will see in the model we do not currently have the correct process nor can we generate sufficient lipid yield to reach financial sustainability on the back of biodiesel. We hope that continued research by Columbia might begin to dismantle some of these challenges so the model can be taken forward in the future.

Will the revenues of the biofuel sales thus be directly reinvested into building urban sanitation?
Again, that was the original goal. A profit-based resource recovery model that allows for expansion of sanitation to the urban poor who otherwise struggle to afford pit emptying services and are therefore excluded from the sanitation value chain.

How high is the sanitation coverage at present? And what sanitation systems are you intending to use?
In Accra, approximately 1500m3 are collected everyday by an active network of privately owned exhauster trucks. However, these services often do not include the poorest as an average tank emptying fee hovers around $100. And regardless, that entire amount of FS is dumped directly into the ocean without any treatment. In Kumasi (Ghana's second city), the figure is closer to 1000m3 but that is at least dumped into a treatment pond system. However, due to lack of funding those ponds are not desludged regularly and their effectiveness in treating the waste stream is suspect.

Are you pilot plant results promising and are there plans to scale up?
While the project made progress in technology and business model development, the financial analysis does not indicate that now is the right time to scale up biodiesel technology. There are some interesting results concerning methane to methanol which are there to explore in the future, but for now we will not be scaling this technology.

Was there any work already done on the optimization of the fecal sludge collection system as a raw material for the process?
Waste Enterprisers is currently working on collection issues for a different business model in Kenya but we found that working with the truck companies would have been sufficient to start the business in Ghana. Ghana has a well developed network of companies that do collection. We would certainly work with them to expand services to the poor and improve service quality, but we would be helping improve a working system in that case, not creating a new system.

And do you have primary results on the financial viability of the system "collection of fecal sludge - biodiesel production - biodiesel selling" in Kumasi?
Please see the attached. Due to the active nature of the truck companies, you will not see numbers on the collection side as that was not explored in the research. The costs of biodiesel production are explored in the attached. Regarding sales, the assumption was made that 100% of the product could be sold locally at the going rate of diesel. As stated above this was a direct result of market research conducted at the beginning of the project.

Thanks to you both for your questions and interest. Please do follow up with any more thoughts.

Tim Wade
Waste Enterprisers Holding llc

Please excuse any typos or grammatical errors as this was written in the Susana template and I might not have caught everything.]]>
Resource recovery from excreta or faecal sludge Thu, 20 Mar 2014 07:28:56 +0000
Re: NEWgenerator for recovery of nutrients, energy and water from human wastes (University of South Florida, USA) - by: danielyeh Cade Museum Prize of Creativity and Invention ( Members of our team will be attending a reception this week at the Florida Innovation Hub ( to participate in "speed dating" with entrepreneurs and potential investors, and pitch the project/product "shark tank" style.

The Cade Museum Prize is designed to encourage creativity and invention by providing an incentive for early-stage companies to move new ideas and products closer to the marketplace. Judges use the following criteria to advance entries to each round of competition:

Creativity: How creative is the idea compared to others in its field? Is it a Big Leap Forward or a Small Tweak to an existing technology?

Breadth of Impact: What could change as a result of this invention? A market segment or the world?

Liklihood of Success: How far away is the invention from market? Will it be able to capture and defend market space?

If we advance to the Final Four, I will share the good news here and on our tumblr site ( Thanks.]]>
Resource recovery from excreta or faecal sludge Sun, 16 Mar 2014 23:04:07 +0000
NEWgenerator for recovery of nutrients, energy and water from excreta (Uni of South Florida, USA) - anaerobic membrane bioreactor (field tests now in Kerala, India) - by: danielyeh
Title of grant:

NEWgeneratorTM for recovery of nutrients, energy and water from human wastes

Subtitle: Advanced anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR) technology for decentralized sanitation through resource recovery

Name of lead organization: University of South Florida

Primary contact at lead organization: Daniel H. Yeh (myself)

Grantee location: Tampa, Florida, USA

Developing country where the research is being or will be tested: Currently targeting India, but we welcome partnership in other countries.

Short description of the project:
The NEWgenerator is a compact and robust resource recovery machine that is paired with pit latrines, septic tanks, fecal sludge pits and self-standing toilets to treat, recycle and harvest embedded nutrients, energy and water in human wastes. It is intended for “wet pits” from communities that utilize water for washing or flushing, which renders the fecal sludge too wet for combustion processes such as pyrolysis for biochar. The NEWgenerator is a hybrid anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR) machine which is packaged in a small-footprint modular housing for off-grid deployment. Unlike its more common aerobic (activated sludge) MBR counterpart, the AnMBR does not require aeration (less energy to operate), produces 90% less microbial biomass (less handling) and recovers (rather than remove) nutrients such as NPK. Key processes of the NEWgenerator include: high-rate anaerobic digestion for rapid waste solids disintegration and high-level pathogen destruction (e.g., against Giardia and Ascaris), membrane ultrafiltration (sub-micron) of reactor solids and colloids to liberate pathogen-safe clean water and nutrients, permeate (clean water) collection and storage, biogas collection and electricity generation, and associated ruggedized sensors, data loggers and micro-controllers.

The AnMBR technology is highly scale-able; It can be sized for single family to neighborhoods. Several versions of the NEWgenerator can be made available. One application of the NEWgenerator is to provide resource harvesting and recovery at regional faecal sludge collection facilities. Another current direction of the NEWgenerator product development is to directly couple with an upstream sanitation provision (e.g., public toilet) in a dense urban setting (e.g., slum) to create a net-zero-water and net-surplus-energy urban sanitation system which harvests the economic potential of human wastes (feces and urine) and other urban biomass (e.g., food waste).

The overall goal of the project is to develop an affordable, highly efficient, robust, reliable, off-grid, closed-loop sanitation system for harvesting energy, water and nutrients from waste urban biomass, both post-consumer (feces and urine) and pre-consumer (food waste).

You will see the abbreviation TRL a few times below.
For a definition of the different levels, see;type=2&id=1834)

  • Using our knowledge of the laboratory TRL5 system (simulated environment), to design, fabricate, field test and demonstrate the TRL6 version (relevant environment) of the NEWgenerator using real sewage.
  • To demonstrate reuse potential of nutrients, energy and water recovered from waste biomass, in particularly for agriculture.
  • Using knowledge gained from field tests of the TRL6 system, to design a TRL7 system for field demonstration in an actual environment (with country partner).
  • To take the NEWgenerator technology to scale via the commercial marketplace.

Start and end date: November 1, 2011 – Oct 31, 2013

Grant type: GCE Round 7 Phase I

Funding for this research currently ongoing (yes/no): No, currently under consideration for additional funding.

Research or implementation partners:
Working with Eram Scientific Solutions (Kerala, India - see:, we are targeting opportunities for field testing of a combined eToilet + NEWgenerator as an integrated system for human waste harvesting and conversion to nutrients, energy and water. The NEWgen can also be used for water cycling from public toilets, as well as dewatering of faecal sludge wet pits, to extend the operation run cycle.

Links, further readings – results to date:

Please visit the project’s main website for updates and ongoing media coverage of our project.

The laboratory TRL5 version of the NEWgenerator is described in the following paper published in Journal of Membrane Science (

Prieto, A.L., H. Futselaar, P.N.L. Lens, R. Bair and D.H. Yeh. (2013). Development and start up of a gas-lift anaerobic membrane bioreactor (Gl-AnMBR) for conversion of sewage to energy, water and nutrients. Journal of Membrane Science. 441:158-167.

The field TRL6 version has been piloted in a relevant environment and two manuscripts are under preparation. We demonstrated:

- Feasibility of NEWgen operating under field condition (over considerable ambient temperature swings) treating actual wastewater from the influent to a septic tank. The system was resilient against surges in organic loading, when additional organics was added to push the limits of performance. Despite spikes in loading, COD removal was consistently high, as was biogas production and pathogen removal.

- Water and nutrients recycled from the NEWgen was tested for fertigation in a greenhouse hydroponic system. Tomatoes and cucumbers were grown successfully using biofertilizer recovered from the NEWgen, comparable to a commercial synthetic fertilizer.

Additional background material:

1) "NEWgenerator membrane biotechnology for the recovery of nutrients, Energy and Water from Human Wastes" - Dr. Daniel Yeh presentation at Int’l Faecal Sludge Management Conference 2 (FSM2), Durban, South Africa, Oct. 30, 2012

Presentation PDF file:

Presentation video:

2) TRL5 NEWgenerator system (video)

3) “Can MBRs solve the World’s Water Crisis?” (Water Environment & Technology, 2004, article on the Bellagio Principle)

4) “Clean Vision” on application of MBRs for developing communities (USF Engineer, 2006)

5) “Could a new energy source start right here?”
(Fox 13 News, May 24, 2012, story by Lloyd Sowers) This is a video report on our lab’s efforts to recovery resources from wastewater using membrane biotechnology. Highlighted are our research on cultivating biofuel microalgae at the City of Tampa’s wastewater treatment plant (featuring PhD Candidate Ivy Cormier), and also our NEWGenerator project with the Gates Foundation.

6) Members of the USF Membrane Biotechnology Lab

Current state of affairs:

We have developed the TRL5 version of the NEWgenerator in the laboratory, using synthetic sewage with complex organic particulates. We have successfully field piloted a TRL6 version of the NEWgenerator using the septic tank at a local school as influent. The TRL7 version has undergone preliminary design. Detailed design and fabrication are pending confirmation of continued funding for the TRL7 phase of the project.

Biggest successes so far:

We have created a TRL6 total recycling and reuse system, coupling the NEWgenerator with resource recovery via a hydroponic greenhouse called the BioFertilizer Farm (BFF). We are eager to build and demonstrate the TRL7 version so that we can advance the technology to scale via the commercial marketplace. Our own bias aside, we do feel that the anaerobic MBR is one of the most promising technologies for addressing the global sanitation, water, energy and food crisis.

[March 2013] We had the pleasure and honor of hosting officials from the USEPA (Nancy Stoner of Office of Water and staff) and Water Environment Federation in our Membrane Biotechnology Lab. It was part of the USEPA Office of Water’s media announcement on a new initiative called “USEPA’s Blueprint for Integrating Technology Innovation into the National Water Program (Version 1.0)” ( During the visit, we were able to highlight BMGF’s support though WaSH GCE and describe the RTT initiative. We also demonstrated to the officials our NEWgenerator process, which is well aligned with the new EPA blueprint.

Below are some links to media coverage of the event:

USF scientists see opportunity gushing from water treatment (The Tampa Tribune,

Cleaning up dirty water can create energy (WMNF Story, text, audio and videos)

WEF and U.S. EPA Tour Innovations at University of South Florida (WEF Highlights)

Main challenges / frustration:

One of the main challenges encountered in our project has been on advocating and communicating membrane technology to clear up misunderstanding and misperceptions. The membrane is an amazing modern marvel of engineering and material science, capable of high levels of separation with an absolute, reliable, physical barrier. However, membranes are still frequently viewed as too expensive, too experimental, too delicate, too “high tech,” or requiring frequent cleaning or replacement. The truth is that membranes have come a long, long way since first invented decades ago. Membrane performance and durability have increased significantly, while costs (both capex and opex) have decreased drastically. These were all made possible with rapid growths in demand, volume and market size. Due to global demands for water treatment, recycling and purification, membranes are manufactured worldwide and available in just about every country, becoming better and cheaper by the day. In fact, the global demand for membranes is projected to reach $25.7 billion by 2017.

At a recent water/wastewater technology tradeshow that we attended in India (Aquatech, New Delhi, April 2013), membrane manufacturers and distributors abound, all jockeying for a slice of the growing membrane marketplace in developing or transitioning countries like India. In my opinion, the real problem with membranes is in NOT using them. Despite their advantages, membranes are to this date mostly used for industrial and municipal water/wastewater markets. With the exception of a few scattered instances, they are not used to provide water purification or sanitation intervention in poor communities (e.g., urban slums) in developing countries, where the needs for water and sanitation improvements are dire. That, to me, is a great injustice; we have a high performance, small-footprint, commercially-available product that is underutilized. To date, membrane manufacturers and equipment providers have not targeted pro-poor markets, such as slum communities. These markets are seen as too risky, too diffuse, too transient and lack a clear customer demand. In fact, they are barely on the radar screen of membrane technology providers and receive occasional consideration only for humanitarian reasons (such as post disaster relief). Through the NEWgenerator, we aim to demonstrate, to both the sanitation sector and membrane industry, that membrane application for poor communities is not only possible, but is necessary and is an untapped market with tremendous potential.

Another misunderstanding is related to the different types of membranes used for the NEWgen. We are not using RO membrane, which is often used for desalination. Hence, there is no concentrate (brine) for disposal. We are using ultrafiltration membranes (UF), which offer sub-micron size pores that are a good compromise between contaminant rejection and water throughput. Just as all clothes get dirty, all membranes do foul to some extent. That is not necessarily a bad thing, since fouling has been shown to actually enhance membrane rejection if managed properly (numerous studies in literature). The key is to manage the fouling so that the system generates permeate at a rate/quality/manner that is satisfactory over a design period of performance. With over 10 years of experience working with membranes and strong ties with the membrane industry and other membrane labs, we have developed protocols and techniques for sustainable flux that allows the NEWgen to be operated reliably over long periods.

One of our biggest challenges has been related to dealing with high temperature under the Florida sun, where the temperature in the reactor shed can rise to 50C and render working conditions quite difficult. Another was dealing with occasional plumbing and component failures from heat stress. However, the heat stress trial has prepared us well (physiologically and mentally) for working in tropical environments such as India and Africa. We have also gained valuable experience in designing and fabricating the system with heat durability in mind.

I am happy to take any questions or receive your comments on our research project.

Resource recovery from excreta or faecal sludge Sun, 16 Mar 2014 22:43:03 +0000
Re: Developing fortified excreta pellets for use in agriculture - and From Waste to Food - Phase 1 and 2 (IWMI, Ghana) - by: muench
While writing up the above information about your presentation during webinar 6, I had 3 follow-up questions with some sub-questions:

Fredrick's question in the chat was missed out:

Fredrick: Funke: That leaves out sludge from pit latrines, or are they seldom used as a technology?

I had also wondered about solid waste. Are you strictly taking faecal sludge from septic tanks which are downstream of flush or pour-flush toilets and therefore you can be quite certain that there is no solid waste in the faecal sludge (not even menstrual hygiene products? Condoms? Toilet paper etc.?). What fraction of the city's population is connected to such septic tanks? Which city are you actually planning to build this treatment plant, is it in Tema (since you mentioned TMA in one of your slides). Why Tema and not Accra or Kumasi? (information about Tema:


About my Point 5 above
5. The Fortifer is made from raw faecal sludge which they receive in liquid form. The first step is to remove excess liquid by drying beds. The excess liquid needs to be treated in some type of wastewater treatment plant, e.g. ponds.

My question: will the operation of such ponds be included in the capital and O&M costs for your Fortifer production plant? If not then who will take care of it? What is your experience with treating this excess liquid in ponds? What effluent quality are you achieving in those ponds?


About my point 10 above:

10. The project funding from the donors will bring financial support to construct the facility (neither TMA nor the private company would have the means to do it on their own).

My question: Does that mean that also future Fortifer production plants would rely on outside donor support? Or would you expect that financing of such a production plant will become easier once the process is proven?

Resource recovery from excreta or faecal sludge Wed, 12 Mar 2014 14:22:58 +0000
Re: Developing fortified excreta pellets for use in agriculture - and From Waste to Food - Phase 1 and 2 (IWMI, Ghana) - by: muench
This is my second write-up of a presentation at the sixth SuSanA-SEI webinar:
For the benefit of readers with slow internet connection (or unable to view Youtube videos), I am providing you here with a write-up of the presentation by Josiane Nikiema and the discussion on 25 February 2014 during webinar number 6 (*).

The topic of her presentation was:

Large scale production and commercialization of Fortifer - a fertilizer manufactured from faecal sludge - in Ghana

By Josiane Nikiema (IWMI-Ghana), IWMI (International Water Management Institute, West Africa Office, Accra, Ghana)

You can watch Josiane's presentation here (it is 8 minutes long): (**)

Powerpoint slides from her presentation are available here:

Some key points from her presentation according to my notes:
  1. Slide 2 shows that they started already in the year 2000 (that’s 14 years ago! It shows that it pays off to be patient in sanitation…). From 2001 onwards, they had their first pilot plant in Kumasi, Ghana, and soon after they also started testing different ways to enrich the produced fertiliser.
  2. They have had quite a few donors over the years (also shown in slide 2), currently the funding comes from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, DFID (from UK) and GCC (Grand Challenges Canada).
  3. Right now they are trying to implement a full-scale production plant targeting 500 tons of product (Fortifer) per year.
  4. This Fortifer is the generic name for various fertiliser formulations (explained in her slides).
  5. The Fortifer is made from raw faecal sludge which they receive in liquid form. The first step is to remove excess liquid by drying beds. The excess liquid needs to be treated in some type of wastewater treatment plant, e.g. ponds.
  6. From previous research, they are confident that “we know how to make sure that the compost is safe by the end of the processing” (I can hear Joe Turner ( saying: “how can you be sure; evidence, please!?”) – see reference below...
  7. The pellets are one of the high quality products that they can produce (see photo on slide 3 to the right). It is made from compost with the steps: grinding, enriching, adding binder to facilitate formation of pellets, pelletisation, drying. Then it can be applied in agriculture.
  8. Right now they are busy setting up a PPP (public private partnership), see slide 6. The public entity is TMA (Tema Municipal Authority) who will be responsibe to facilitate access to land and to faecal sludge.
  9. The private entity (they have already selected one) would bring all the financial resources for operating and maintaining the plant; they would also be responsible for marketing of the product.
  10. The project funding from the donors will bring financial support to construct the facility (neither TMA nor the private company would have the means to do it on their own).
  11. Expected revenues are: selling the compost, pellets or other fertilisers; and also the tipping fee from the truck operators that they normally have to pay when they discharge faecal sludge at a treatment plant in Ghana.
  12. They also have an advisory team: this is made up of high level people from different sectors in the country.

We had a short verbal discussion on Josiane’s presentation, which you can listen to in this video here at this point:

The question was by Laura Kimani: How long is composting time before pelletization and which and how much other organic feedstock is mixed into the fecal sludge during co-composting?

Answer by Josiane (see also chat below): “3 months of composting on average; we add saw dust, market waste, food waste to the faecal sludge for composting.”

For most of the discussion we used the chat function, as that was actually more efficient and faster. Due to the fact that the chat was recorded, it makes it easy for me: I just copy the chat recording below (I have asked the people concerned, i.e. the participants, and they agreed with this):

  • Fredrick: Good presentation from Ghana. It would be interesting to know how project overcame regulation barriers.
  • Fredrick: (Regulations on re-use, if any)
  • Carol McCreary: Solid pit material? Because latrine no longer in use? Or UDDT?
  • Funke: Generally re-use is accepted in the sanitation policy of Ghana provided it is safe. One of the expected outcome of our current project is to have FORTIFER registered and certified as a fertilizer material in Ghana
  • Fredrick: @Funke: Thanks for response.

  • Laura Kimani: How long is composting time before pelletization and which and how much other organic feedstock is mixed into the fecal sludge during co-composting?
  • Funke: Composting time to maturity is about 3 months
  • Funke: Laura, we mix fecal sludge with organic market waste or saw dust

  • Andrew Jones: Funke, do you have to worry about heavy metal contamination?
  • Laura Kimani: Besides Heavy metals, which other compost quality parameters are you testing your product for?
  • Fredrick: Funke: Who defines 'safe'?
  • Funke: Andrew, we don’t have to 'worry' about heavy metals but we analyse them anyway to be sure. We use sludge from household septic thank and from public toilets
  • Funke: Laura. for compost quality parameters, we measure C, N, EC, temperature, and several other parameters in the time past to establish the procedures. subsequently we stick to helminth eggs, nitorgen, carbon, temperature.

  • Fredrick: Funke: That leaves out sludge from pit latrines, or are they seldom used as a technology?
  • Mohammad Mojtabaei: chemical hazard , biological hazard , parasite eggs and larvae for both operator, environment and users

  • Laura Kimani: @ Funke: How do you mix and turn your feedstock?
  • Funke: Laura, we mix manually with shovels and workers wear gloves + nose masks

  • Laura Kimani: What's the NPK of your final product?
  • Funke: I will provide some links here for additional information
  • Laura Kimani: Thanks so much Funke!
  • Funke: Laura, depending on the type of FORTIFER (enriched or not enriched) we have different values

  • Funke: Laura, you may check out this for more information: Cofie Olufunke, (2009). Co-composting of faecal sludge and organic solid waste for agriculture: Process dynamics. Water Research 43: 4665-4675.
  • Funke: Laura, and this also. Nikiema, Josiane, Cofie, Olufunke, Impraim, Robert; Adamtey, N. 2013. Processing of fecal sludge to fertilizer pellets using a low-cost technology in Ghana. Environment and Pollution, 2(4): 70-87.
  • Laura Kimani: Thanks so much Funke I will check it out. It would be great to be in touch in future.

  • Jeremy Kohlitz: Funke, thank you for your and Josiane's presentation. How do you deal with large solids (e.g. pieces of rubbish) in the pit latrine sludge before you apply it to the drying beds?
  • Funke: Jeremy, thanks. we are not using pit latrine sludge
  • Funke: Jeremy, again we use sludge from septic tanks, discharged into the drying beds.
  • Jeremy Kohlitz: Thank you for clarifying, Funke. I missed that part!
  • Funke: Yes, the time was too short. If you need additional information, do not hesitate to get back to us

  • Ofosu Budu: @Funke. What is your view about enriching the compost with N to about 5% N and P to meet the soil and nutrient demands in tropical soils
  • Funke: Ofosu, indeed, we can enrich with N, P or K depending on the nutrient requirements. so far we did enrichment with N because we were targeting crops that require a lot of N. This year we are also starting some enrichment with P and K. We can modify the FORTIFER formulation depending on the need

  • Dorothee Spuhler: @Funke: How much time does the treatment in the drying bed take and what is your moisture content before and after?
  • Richard (Chip) Fisher: @ Josiane and Funke: Do you dry the waste prior to pelletization? If so, how?
  • Funke: Dorothee, dewatering on the drying bed can take up to 2 weeks
  • Funke: Dorothee, you can check this also: Cofie, et al. (2006) Solid-liquid separation of faecal sludge using drying beds in Ghana: Implications for nutrient recycling in urban agriculture. Water Research 40: 75-82

I am summarising here the publications that Funke mentioned (impressive publication list (I know this is just a selection!); however pity they are not in open access journals):
  • Cofie, et al. (2006) Solid-liquid separation of faecal sludge using drying beds in Ghana: Implications for nutrient recycling in urban agriculture. Water Research 40: 75-82
  • Cofie Olufunke, (2009). Co-composting of faecal sludge and organic solid waste for agriculture: Process dynamics. Water Research 43: 4665-4675.
  • Nikiema, Josiane, Cofie, Olufunke, Impraim, Robert; Adamtey, N. (2013). Processing of fecal sludge to fertilizer pellets using a low-cost technology in Ghana. Environment and Pollution, 2(4): 70-87.

Regarding publications, Funke wrote to me later the following:

Yes, you can include the SuSanA case study (Co-composting of faecal sludge and organic solid waste Kumasi, Ghana, see:;type=2&id=113). The plant is no longer there though but the experience/content is valid.

Indeed, the publications I mentioned in the chat and the appendix of the reports have copyright issues but the information I have provided should allow access to the abstracts through google search.

We are working on a series of downloadable publications which we plan to share very soon.
Hope this helps.
Kind regards


I hope you found this write-up useful (particularly if Youtube is banned in your country). Please don’t hesitate to put any follow-up questions, comments or clarifications into this thread. Thanks again to Josiane and Funke for preparing and giving this presentation at this webinar, and for answering all the questions!


(*) More information about these webinars is available in this thread here:

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Resource recovery from excreta or faecal sludge Wed, 12 Mar 2014 13:50:21 +0000
Re: Faecal sludge to biodiesel (Columbia University, USA and Kumasi, Ghana) - by: mv2368
Thank you for your questions! Indeed, a new organization has now taken over the site in Kumasi. Nonetheless, the project continues in New York at Columbia University labs. During our pilot phase in Ghana, there was a reassessment of the original objectives and new ones have been introduced. More funding was received to look into the following:

1. Pathogen removal through fermentation/digestion
2. Inclusion of other feedstocks
3. Methane to methanol conversion
4. Other processes for lipid production from fermentate.

This research project is ongoing and we are glad to be receiving one of our collaborators, a PhD student from Kwame Nkrumah University of Technology, visiting for a few months to carry out some of these experiments.

Based on the pilot research findings, it was determined that more laboratory research needs to be carried out before scaling up the process.

We will keep SuSanA posted!

Resource recovery from excreta or faecal sludge Mon, 24 Feb 2014 18:49:39 +0000
Re: VUNA - Valorisation of Urine Nutrients in Africa (EAWAG, Switzerland, and South Africa) - by: elizabethtilley
In the interest of keeping this thread dedicated to the main VUNA findings, I started a new topic called "Monitoring and Evaluation" and replied to you over there:

Let's keep the conversation going!

Resource recovery from excreta or faecal sludge Thu, 20 Feb 2014 09:30:59 +0000