Biomass Waste to Sustainable Fuel - Sanivation

About Solution

Sanivation is at the forefront of using waste streams to help meet climate-resilience goals in Kenya. Specifically, Sanivation partners with local governments and institutions to implement waste-to-energy factories. These factories intake fecal sludge and agricultural residues to produce a sustainable fuel. Fuel sales cover the operation costs of the factory, enabling it to process fecal sludge and produce fuel in perpetuity. The fuel outperforms traditional charcoal, burning 1.5 times as long with 33% fewer emissions and saving 88 trees per ton sold. By using waste products to create a sustainable fuel, Sanivation is contributing to a zero-carbon future.

We've already deployed two waste-to-energy factories, one in Naivasha with partnership of the local government and one in Kakuma Refugee Camp with UNHCR. In Naivasha, we have sold 800 tons of sustainable fuel, saving 70,400 trees, offsetting 1,100 tons of CO2eq, and reached 34% gross margin. Our fuel is certified by Kenya Board of Standards and we have documented demand for over 6,400 tons a month. In Naivasha, our waste-to-energy factory is government endorsed and on government land through a detailed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the water service provider, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Water.

We have done extensive testing on our fuel with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Kenya Industrial Institute for Research and Development, and University of Nairobi, which show that our briquettes have a third of the carbon monoxide emissions and particulate matter as traditional charcoal. Moreover, we have continued research with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on pathogen inactivation, adding knowledge to the sanitation sector on safe waste disposal. Our fuel is part of only 10% of biomass fuel products in Kenya that is produced and sold legally, according to Kenya’s sustainable charcoal guidelines.

To date, no other waste-to-energy company has developed a viable business model that addresses multiple targets of the Sustainable Development Goals. We are making a resource-recovery approach financially sustainable by using two free, renewable resources - fecal sludge and agricultural residues - to create an energy-efficient biomass fuel that mitigates effects of climate change. When used in a traditional Kenyan Ceramic Jiko (KCJ), Sanivation briquettes have a thermal efficiency of 26-31%. Additionally, by selling at a competitive price, beneficiaries can cook more for the same price and save 20% on fuel expenditures.

By creating a reuse product, we tap into a sizeable market – biomass fuels. Nationwide, there is a $1.3 billion solid fuels market that grew by 50% in the last decade. In the past decade, traditional charcoal prices have doubled. The charcoal consumption habits are both economically and environmentally unsustainable. With a $1.3 billion annual market for solid fuels, we are seeking to position ourselves as a provider of renewable biomass fuels across several counties in Kenya.

Other briquettes producers are manufacturing briquettes composed of carbonized biomass and molasses, which acts as binder. Briquette supply in Kenya can vary depending on the supply and price of binders. In the case of Sanivation, we do not have to worry about supply of binder, as our briquettes are made from carbonized biomass and treated feces – abundant and free resources. As a result, we can provide affordable and sustainable fuel that is cost-competitive with traditional options without concern for sourcing inputs.



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