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Disinfectants from Wastewater

The accumulation of untreated fecal sludge – the waste product from sanitation systems without a sewer – leads to water contamination from carbon, nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) and pathogens, posing a threat to both human and environmental health in low- and middle-income countries. To address these urgent issues, Stanford researchers are collaborating with Delvic Sanitation Initiatives in Dakar, Senegal to increase accessibility of sustainable sanitation, reduce transmission of potentially deadly diarrheal disease and limit the environmental impacts of disinfectant production. Will Tarpeh, an assistant professor in Chemical Engineering along with Anna Kogler a PhD student in Civil & Environmental Engineering, are studying the processes of producing disinfectants and fertilizers from fecal sludge through electrochemical stripping – a system that uses electricity to selectively remove compounds from a solution. They are also investigating the economic and social factors, such as market demand and human resources, affecting the implementation of the technology. Through a combination of laboratory research and collaborative real-world evaluation, the researchers strive to provide effective solutions to the accumulation of waste and unsustainable production of disinfectants to improve local health and sustainability.