Thomas Fudge was travelling around India one university summer when he got sick. At the time he was studying product design as an undergraduate, but after a month being laid up from an infection connected to the poor quality water and sanitation in the country, he returned to England a stone lighter and the kernel of an idea for a business that could employ the latest technology to turn dirty water into energy.
“I was quite sick for three months from stomach issues and that sparked my interest in how you remove waste and stop the spread of disease,” he says down the phone from the west London office of Wase, his startup which employs the latest technology to turn toilet water into energy.
Wase is an example of the circular economy: it takes dirty water from latrines in a refugee camp, for example, and runs it through a system to produce methane. Methane can be used as gas power for heating and cooking, while the leftover wastewater is full of nutrients, including phosphorus, potassium and nitrates that can be used in fertiliser.
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