[permaculture] The Real BioFuels

L.Santoyo Designs santoyo at earthflow.com
Mon Jul 18 13:58:00 EDT 2005

Check out the following article for the real future of biofuels...Out 
of this suffering and depravation comes inspiration.

Kathryn Santoyo

>Human Feces Powers Rwandan Prison
>02:00 AM Jul. 16, 2005 PT
>Imagine eating food that was cooked using natural gas generated from 
>your own human waste. Thousands of prisoners in Rwanda don't have to 
>imagine it -- they live it.
>Prisoners' feces is converted into combustible "biogas," or methane 
>gas that can be used for cooking. It has reduced by 60 percent the 
>annual wood-fuel costs which would otherwise reach near $1 million, 
>according to Silas Lwakabamba, rector of the 
><http://www.kist.ac.rw/>Kigali Institute of Science, Technology and 
>Management, where the technology was developed.
>Last month, the Rwandan prison biogas facilities received an 
><http://www.ashdenawards.org/about.html>Ashden Award for sustainable 
>energy. The award, which comes with a prize worth nearly $50,000, is 
>given by the Ashden Trust, a British charity organization that 
>promotes green technologies.
>"It's turning a negative social situation in terms of the Rwandan 
>genocide into something that can benefit local people in the local 
>area," said Corrina Cordon, spokeswoman for the Ashden Awards.
>Many of Rwanda's 120,000 prisoners are incarcerated because of the 
>genocidal campaign. The prisons are overcrowded by a factor of 10, 
>Lwakabamba said.
>He added that prison overpopulation has created a situation where 
>the facilities have significantly increased energy needs. The 
>overcrowding also leads to large amounts of human waste that the 
>prisons cannot adequately process.
>Lwakabamba said that prior to the construction of biogas facilities 
>at a prison situated atop a hill at Cyangugu in southwestern Rwanda, 
>some human waste was being thrown down the hill, near natural bodies 
>of water such as Lake Kivu.
>"It got started when we went to these prisons and we realized that 
>so much human waste was going into these rivers and we had to try 
>something," he said.
>The university rector said that the Rwandan biogas facilities, which 
>are currently in half of the 30 prisons around the country, now 
>contribute half of the energy needs for cooking and lighting in each 
>Rwanda's biogas facilities are among the most ambitious in the 
>world, given their size and scope. They range up to 1,000 cubic 
>meters in something resembling a beehive shape.
>The process requires putting a given amount of human or other animal 
>waste into a "digester," which ferments it using bacteria to release 
>methane gas that can be captured and then burned as fuel. Attached 
>is a "compensating chamber" that replenishes the supply of bacteria 
>to keep the operation self-sustaining.
>The lead engineer on the project, Ainea Kimaro, says that within 
>four weeks, 100 cubic meters of waste can be transformed into 50 
>cubic meters of fuel.
>Biogas is being used around the world, including in homes in 
><http://www.ashdenawards.org/finalist05_1.html>Nepal and to power 
>trains in 
>Kimaro said that while waste smells bad initially, the biogas that 
>is produced has no foul odor. He added that the Rwandan prisoners 
>are not put off by the idea of using the byproduct of human waste to 
>"Our people are very adaptive," he said. "They see it working; they 
>want to use it."
>Once the methane is produced, the remaining waste is used as an 
>odor-free fertilizer for the gardens at the prison.
>Martin Wright, an Ashden Awards judge who traveled to Rwanda and 
>visited the prison at Cyangugu, got down on his hands and knees to 
>take a whiff of the manure.
>"I've sniffed the residue and there is no smell at all," he said.
>As remarkable as the odorless fertilizer is, Wright said that he was 
>even more impressed by the idea that the new energy project involves 
>people being held on charges of genocide in Cyangugu, just across 
>the border from the volatile civil war raging in the Democratic 
>Republic of the Congo.
>"(That) they've become the site for this amazing pioneering project 
>means that you're taking something that's a consequence of human 
>misery and producing something hopeful out of it," he said.

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