Many young startups are constantly innovating to find new ways to repurpose waste. This now includes producing sustainable oil and fertiliser from sewage sludge. According to Forbes, Danish startup MASH Biotech has found a cost-effective method for converting one of the world’s big waste sources into sustainable oil and a fertilizer.
MASH Biotech, a tech spin-out from the Technical University of Denmark, employs a cost-effective process for producing oil and fertiliser from the sewage sludge. The oil looks a lot like crude and is viscous too, but is low in sulfur and carbon dioxide neutral, which makes it a sustainable fuel source. Currently they produce two tons of oil a day which is used by their customers for various purposes like heating in textile mills as well as further treatment of the oil in cement plants and refineries. Speaking about their process, Jakob Andersen, CEO of Mash Biotech says,
By looking at what the market is actually requesting, we found out that there is a huge demand for producing a more crude oil that can be used in industrial applications.”
They have set up this operation in Ahmedabad city of Gujarat as a test case due to the cheap availability of raw materials and lower operational costs. They follow a business model wherein they pay to set up, maintain and operate a plant to process the sludge from water treatment plants. The resulting bio oil is sold and the fertiliser is returned to the plant who later sell it to farmers. MASH’s process also reduces sludge by 50%, thus reducing the the waste water treatment plants’ costs to dispose of the sludge.
After the successful of the test run in Gujarat, MASH is looking to expand across the subcontinent as well as Africa. Kenya is being considered as possible market, specifically the Kakuma refugee camp area. The only difference in Kenya would be that instead of repurposing sludge, MASH would use an invasive tree called Prosopis juliflora as the raw material. The tree is already being used to produce char coal, however, Mash hopes to use its technology to convert it to into fuel for vehicles and diesel generators as well. Anderson adds,
If we can provide an alternative for the diesel purchased at the local gas station, we could do a lot of good. Oil companies are not that keen on exporting oil into remote locations in the deserts of Kenya and for that reason, diesel is very expensive.”
Kakuma refugee camp is home to over 17,000 refugess fleeing wars, conflicts and persecution in various parts of Africa. With MASH’s new oil producing operations located here, there is potential to create employment for many of these refugess as well as provide them with a sustainable oil industry.