Tech Award Laureates: Cows to Kilowatts Produces Clean, Waste-Reducing Energy

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Each year, the Tech Awards honors innovators who use technology to benefit humanity. This year's winners are a motley crew, ranging from nutrient-rich rice and open-source math software to a slaughterhouse waste-reducing program called Cows to Kilowatts. The Cows to Kilowatts initiative, launched in Nigeria by Dr. Joseph Adelegan as a solution to the pressing issue of slaughterhouse water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, employs a powerful anaerobic reactor to process animal waste and blood into quality biogas. The captured methane biogas can be used as cooking gas, fuel for household gas generators, and as biofuel for transportation. Any remaining sludge is used as fertilizer.

The slaughterhouse waste problem is common in many African cities, where abattoirs dump animal waste into lakes and rivers, untroubled by sanitation regulations. In addition to causing widespread disease, the waste pollutes water supplies with microorganisms like E.coli, salmonella, and Rift Valley fever virus, and releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. But with the Cows to Kilowatts system, slaughterhouse waste is reduced by a whopping 90%, while greenhouse gas emissions are eliminated completely.

Cows to Kilowatts is more than just a good idea. The Tech Award Laureate has already received a $500,000 grant from the U.N. and a $200,000 grant from a World Bank competition. And a $480,000 pilot biogas plant is already in operation in Ibadan, Nigeria, where it is doling out 1,800 cubic meters of biogas daily to 5,400 households for a quarter of the cost of liquified natural gas. The company has also installed a bioreactor that generates power from cassava waste in Illorin, Nigeria. Next up: Cows to Kilowatts systems in six other Nigerian cities with funding help from the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Environment. More potential projects are planned in Zimbabwe, Kenya, and South Africa. And now that Cows to Kilowatts has received recognition from the Tech Awards, expect interest in the program to increase even more.

Stay tuned in the coming days as we look at more of the most innovate Tech Award Laureates.

[Cows to Kilowatts]

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  • Paula Castillo

    This is a great piece on Joseph Adelegan. Both Joseph and Howard Weinstein are Ashoka-Lemelson Fellows. We have a blog were we also feature our other 60 or so Ashoka-Lemelson Fellows, we hope you can visit sometime: http://tech.ashoka.org