26 July 2011
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Honors Hertz Foundation Fellows; Biochar Group One of Eight University Teams to "Reinvent the Toilet"
Young Leaders to Apply Biochar Innovation to Sanitation Solutions in Nairobi, Kenya
The winning "Biochar Group" is a volunteer collaboration including Hertz Fellows from MIT, Caltech, the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University. The group is one of eight winning teams from a field of 22 universities invited to compete in the Gates Foundation challenge to develop a 21st century toilet without links to water, energy, or sewer lines that costs users under $0.05 a day.
The award supports the work of the Biochar Group in the production of crucial biochar that can help reverse carbon depletion in our soils. That work will be applied to transform the disposal and sterilization of sewage in a million-person slum within the city of Nairobi, Kenya in conjunction with Sanergy, an MIT startup working in Africa on sanitation and renewable energy. The awards will be announced July 19 at a major conference in Rwanda.
"We are honored to see our Fellows participate in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation effort, which aims to improve the lives of 2.6 billion people without adequate sanitation on our planet," said Dr. Jay Davis, Hertz Foundation President. "The Hertz Fellows have built a vibrant community to support and inspire one another. Good things come from that collaboration and the Biochar Group has been one of the most exciting. We're doubly grateful to have our work recognized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation."
Biochar is a high grade of charcoal formed in a low-oxygen environment. Instead of burning or combustion, pyrolysis converts biomass into biochar in the range of 450 to 600 degrees Celsius. This principle will be applied to the transformation of sewage in third world countries.
The Hertz Foundation Biochar Group has worked for two years to build four generations of machines that create biochar to sequester carbon in the soil. "Each year 60 gigatons of agriculturally fixed carbon rots and turns back into carbon dioxide," said Dr. Brian Von Herzen, Executive Director of the Climate Foundation, Hertz Fellow (1980) and director of the Biochar Group. "By converting just ten percent of the fixed carbon into biochar, we could actually capture and sequester most of man's atmospheric carbon dioxide emitted each year." Read more @ Source PR Newswire