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15 year old Javier Fernández-Han invented a truly innovative solution to meeting the basic needs of many of the world’s poor, and won Ashoka’s Invent Your World Challenge with his algae energy system, called VERSATILE. His holistic approach uses an efficient, modular system to meet multiple needs.The basis of Javier’s system is salt-water loving algae.
The VERSATILE subsystems are:
* An anaerobic digester, converting sewage and food scraps
* A bio-gas upgrader, turning the gases from the digester into nourishment for the algae, as well as producing fuel
* Vented methane burning stoves, a non-polluting and CO2 capturing device
* Algae bioreactors producing algae biomass and oxygen from sunlight, saltwater, and CO2, and using nutrients from the digester
* Flush latrines
* The PlayPump, which uses the energy of children playing to power the system as well as other devices
The benefits of the VERSATILE energy system include better health for villagers due to cleaner burning methane stoves, less deforestation due to wood scavenging for fuel, possible income from the sale of algae biomass for pharmaceutical or nutraceutical products, easier livestock production because of more availability of feed, LED lighting powered by electricity generation from the PlayPump, and a source of fuel for machinery (from algae oil).
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