Indians lack access to two critical pieces of infrastructure, toilets, and electricity. Our project, The Humanure Power Project (HPP), aims to alleviate both of these issues by connecting existing and proven technologies. HPP has been working in the village of Sukhpur, located in the Supaul district in the Indian state of Bihar. 11 million people in Bihar live without access to toilets. Stratifying this data to the district level, only 15% of the households in Supaul have access to toilets.
Furthermore, out of 1.7 million total residents in Supaul, only 1.2 percent of them have connections to electricity. HPP will build a community block of toilets and human waste will be collected in a biogas generator. Biogas generators have long been employed to create methane, which can then be combusted to generate electricity.
After combustion, however, we must distribute the generated electricity. Unfortunately, power lines do not exist in this village, so we must make the electricity ‘portable’. In order to do this, we will charge 12-volt batteries with the electricity we produce using human waste, which can then be rented out to the community. Currently, villagers spend about 15% of their annual income on kerosene that they burn for lighting.
Our batteries would provide a much cheaper and cleaner form of light. Once the charge on the battery has run out, villagers can return it to our charging station, and pick up a new one. Battery rentals will operate on a monthly membership program. While the toilet block is being constructed, cow manure will be used as a substitute for human waste. Cow manure is a consistent source of methane which can be purchased locally from farmers, and be harnessed to produce methane in a biogas tank. Electricity will be produced and distributed from this.
HPP will create the link between the toilets and the batteries once the toilet block is complete and we have a consistent supply of methane gas from human waste. We hope to incentivize toilet use to the community by stating that the more they use it, the more electricity the community has. An additional incentive will be the proximity of the toilets – villagers will no longer have to walk long distances just to relieve themselves. Furthermore, the battery system is a much cheaper and healthier form of energy and the battery rental program will also be creating a business in the community.