By XiaoZhi Lim
Chemical & Engineering News

For centuries, people have burned waste and wood for energy, using those fires to heat their homes and cook their food. All across rural Asia, many residents are still using waste to create energy for their homes—the technology’s just a little more sophisticated these days.

In places like China and India, people collect the waste from their kitchen, toilets, and livestock and dump it into a large, air-tight machine called a digester. Blades inside the device churn the material, mixing it with microorganisms living inside. These microbes digest the waste to produce useful substances: fertilizer, which can be applied to crop fields, and biogas, which can be burned as fuel.

In the past few decades, the governments of China, India, and Thailand, among others in Asia, have been installing digesters throughout their countries. The devices are widely viewed as a single technology that can address multiple issues at once, from producing renewable energy to providing some form of waste management in rural areas without sanitation infrastructure.


Continue reading at Chemical & Engineering News. Originally published on May 9, 2016.

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