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Micro-organism as agent acting on interim sanitary infrastructure

urban designer who could connect lab-based research to onsite local communities that face hygienic challenge

Photo of Kenya Endo
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Have you heard of Microbial Fuel Cells (MFC)? This is a technology to use micro-organism to clean-up dirty water and, at the same time, generate electricity.

Lack of sanitation related infrastructure is a critical issue. I always feel shocking to see waterways in Asian cities ended up being a “sewage”. My proposal is to leverage on what these cities have; dirty / smelly waterways, plus targeted micro-organism suited for MFC is also everywhere in the world. Why not apply this technology to help solve the issue?

Unfortunately, this proposal cannot be a "silver bullet" that could solve water issues in developing cities. Building proper infrastructures does require time, just like all wealthy cities have experienced. However, now, there are many ways to mitigate the situation and complement the shortage of infrastructure. And I believe MFC is one of the candidates.

The biggest advantage is to use dirty waterways and ubiquitous micro-organism to be the agent for cleaning and generating electricity. The application of electricity (by-product) is open. It could fuel the water quality censor to monitor river’s health, be stored for community events to educate the root of hygiene problems.

I see the extensiveness of this technology, but first needs to be well-tested onsite.


Here adding some related articles. Bold text is the quote.

Power a mobile phone with human urine using MFC technology. 
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140312-is-pee-power-really-possible

MFC holds a great potential as simple to use, rapid and cost effective sensing devices for water monitoring.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4600167/

Widespread use of MFCs can take our waste products and transform them into energy. 
http://illumin.usc.edu/134/microbial-fuel-cells-generating-power-from-waste/

How would you describe the stage of development of your idea?

  • Conceptual Development

How big or scalable is the potential of your idea?

Any rapidly growing cities that suffer from shortage in sanitary infrastructure are within the scope of my proposal. Now, my focus is primarily in South-east Asia (Jakarta specifically), but the concept is flexible enough to be implemented to other parts of the world.

Explain the sustainability aspect of your idea

Targeted micro-organism is literary everywhere in the world, and MFC technology aims to use its natural metabolism to help clean water and create electricity. Although require further study, there should be little input to the site and minimum processing involved for operation and maintenance.

What types of financing would be required for your idea to be successful?

First step is to design a prototype for onsite testing; this process will require support from Japanese researchers, expert in MFC technology.
Second step is to test its feasibility at onsite waterways to quantify MFC’s actual effects.
I would like to request funding for these two steps. Expected outcome to be a successful prototype of MFC and/or research papers.

In-country experience

  • Not yet

Is your organization currently legally registered in India?

  • No

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a landscape and urban designer working in South-east Asia. I’ve been involved in designing enjoyable public spaces for the community as well as for native fauna & flora. My personal focus has always been on system design that integrates infrastructure with ecological process in cities, such as green infrastructure and river restoration.
All cities must be liveable with lots of happy faces here and there. Unfortunately, most of Asian cities are not like that. I am willing to make a contribution.

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Photo of Kenya Endo
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Thanks Ria. I'd also like to know the effect. That's what I'm proposing to do.
FYI, followings are some related links. Added some quotes from the articles. 

Power a mobile phone with human urine using MFC technology. 
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140312-is-pee-power-really-possible

MFC holds a great potential as simple to use, rapid and cost effective sensing devices for water monitoring 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4600167/

Widespread use of MFCs can take our waste products and transform them into energy. 
http://illumin.usc.edu/134/microbial-fuel-cells-generating-power-from-waste/

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