Combined heat and power stage 1 development plan

2015 - 2016 • Biomass Controls PBC


To develop a system that can power an appliance for sanitation in areas where electricity is not available or economically feasible


Under this project, Biomass Controls PBC (Biomass Controls) of Woodstock, Connecticut will explore and develop micro-combined heat and power (mCHP) technology for off-grid resource recovery of human feces and/or other biogenic materials. This work shall be, initially, in conjunction with the Biomass Controls Biogenic Refinery being presently operated in India and the United States.

Biomass Controls shall investigate available thermal power generator technologies, develop metrics for determining compatibility to the energy balance, and finally work to integrate selected technologies into the Biogenic Refinery. Being a condition of the sustainable sanitation solution that it operates off-grid, Biomass Controls has already explored several options for power generation with biogenic fuels.

In 2013, under the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Reinvent the Toilet (RTT) Challenge a transportable system for the drying and refining of human solid feces to thermal energy and granulated carbon (biochar) was developed using control technology from Biomass Control’s and components from AgFuel Energy Systems.

This first prototype did not include a self-sustaining power solution that will be required for installation in locations such as Africa. The Biogenic Refinery project would be more widely adaptable if it contained a power solution to operate in rural areas where energy from fossil fuels is not financially feasible.

Update in Feb. 2017:
Thermal Power Generation Summary:

- Thermoacoustic: Not commercially available
- Thermoelectric: Limited generation potential
- Stirling: Not commercially available
- Steam: Viable option
- Organic Rankine Cycle: Viable option

Thermal Power Generation Conclusion:
- Eliminate Dryer
- Grinder for pre-processing supplemental fuel
- Smaller Footprint


Image: Schematic of the process

Countries of activity

Location of main activity


Goal: Identify technologies that can use thermal energy from fecal sludge to generate electrical power under 1 MW.

 - Off-grid pyrolysis unit
 - Economically viable
 - Treat faecal sludge from 500-10,000 individuals
 - No harmful pollutants, no safety hazards
 - Carbon neutral or negative

To develop a system that can power an appliance for sanitation in areas where electricity is not available or economically feasible, such as Africa or India, thus enabling self-sustaining technologies for use by the poor in the developing world. The power system will be fed either directly from fecal waste or the product of a fecal waste processing system.

Further information

Developing country where the research is being or will be tested: India (India initially, with various Africa countries later)

Research or implementation partners: Tide Technocrats, Bengaluru, India

Current state of affairs (Aug. 2017): Demonstrations are underway, with further iterative development ongoing. Framework for management of faecal sludges is in development with several partners in different areas of the sanitation service delivery chain.

Next steps:
- Energy, enthalpy, mass, and mass carbon balance
- Product Integration
- Exploring hybrid power options

Contact information

Jeffrey Hallowell
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Derek DeSouza
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Filter tags

Asia & Pacific Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Energy: electricity, hydrogen, fuel cells Faecal sludge treatment processes Faeces or faecal sludge Fundamental research and engineering North America Private sector, including social enterprises Product design and engineering Specific to one or several countries Treatment of faecal sludge

Attached files

Short introduction sheet of project

Format: pdf file
Size: 0.2 MB

Presentation at FSM4 Conference (Feb 2017): Carbon Neutral Electrical Generation from Human Solid Waste

Format: pdf file
Size: 2.26 MB


Biomass Controls PBC
United States

Our mission is to offer transformative solutions in response to water and sanitation challenges around the world. Our Biogenic Refinery provides thermochemical treatment of high moisture materials such as manures, human excreta, agriculture residues and food waste. Our services provide Design, Technology Adoption Support, and Impact Measurement. Our decentralized technologies deliver improvements in health, the environment and quality of life while promoting gender equality. Our vision is to become a world leader in decentralized, community scale non-sewered thermal sanitation solutions that significantly impact quality of life and equality in served areas.

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