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Photo Friday: Using waste instead of chopping firewood

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The Meru GK Prison is a government institution in Kenya’s eastern province in Meru County.  Spanning a 15 hectare area, this prison houses more than 1200 inmates and employs approximately 300 staff. This anaerobic digestor produces methane from the facility’s waste streams, which is then used as a source of energy in the prison’s kitchens. Previously, this energy demand was supplied using firewood and all waste was treated via the local wastewater treatment plant.

Photo Credit: Photo taken 2009 by Sustainable sanitation and used via Creative Commons licensing.

Melissa C. Lott About the Author: An engineer and researcher who works at the intersection of energy, environment, technology, and policy. Follow on Twitter @mclott.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. tuned 11:05 am 11/1/2013

    Very nice.
    Would the West call it “cruel and unusual” to replace the fancy gyms and weights in prisons with (rather small?) generator wheels turned by prisoners in the “yard” if it always proves to be healthy exercise and reduces pollution?
    Same for its’ water pump/water tower like I have seen in 3rd world countries? Why should prisons be power holes rather than power producers? Prisoners are always eager to be out of their cell, so make better use of it while showing them they are a benefit to the community while they make themselves healthier.
    The most efficient (least polluting) power producer is biological. As the world population continues to explode it will have to become the go to source eventually.

    China is already having to shut down whole cities for days at a time due to pollution. Nothing like biting the face to spite the nose, si?

    Link to this
  2. 2. Gord Davison 12:53 pm 11/1/2013

    If we were smart there would be few to no criminals and this project would be a free enterprise profit making venture. All we have to do is practice prevention.

    Link to this

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