Dr. Joseph Adelegan, an engineer from Nigeria with a passion for environmental technology, wanted to draw attention to the problem of slaughterhouse waste as a significant source of pollution for both water supplies and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as a source for the spread of disease.

Dr. Adelegan wanted to shine a light on the issue and come up with a solution. After studying the effects of water pollution from the Bodija Market Abattoir in Ibadan, where nearly two thirds of the animals in Oyo State are slaughtered, he turned to the Global Network for Environment and Economic Development Research (GNEEDR), where he joined forces with two other Nigerian organizations - the Centre for Youth, Family and the Law, and the Sustainable Ibadan Project, a UN-HABITAT initiative - to create a brand new, innovative way to deal with the problem.

Turning Cows into Kilowatts

Cows for Kilowatts solves one of the most significant sources of water pollution and greenhouse gases emissions in most developing economies - slaughterhouse waste. The anaerobic fixed film reactor featured in the Cows to Kilowatts project cleans up the waste stream and converts the collected organic waste into methane. The methane can then be used to generate electricity, or function as cheap cooking gas. The project can reduce slaughterhouse pollution by as much as 90%!

WATCH VIDEO: Where's the Beef? Bill Nye explains the dangers of methane produced by America's cattle and what can be done to reduce this deadly greenhouse gas.

The project was recently a recipient of the Tech Award as an eco-minded project.

The project members have opened first waste treatment and biogas production plant, which generates about 1,800 cubic meters of biogas per day and to capture 900 cubic meters of pure methane per day, which equates out to over 22,300 fewer tons of CO2 going into the atmosphere per year from the slaughterhouse where it is located. The methane is used as a household cooking gas for as many as 5,400 homes each month, and it is cheaper than natural gas as well as reduces indoor air pollution.

Big Picture Thinking in the Cows to Kilowatts Project

Slaughterhouses aren't going away any time soon, but the damage they cause can indeed be slowed. By looking at the whole picture, Dr. Adelegan and the many other people involved in this project were able to devise a solution that slows water pollution, slows greenhouse gas pollution, provides a healthier, more affordable cooking solution for thousands of families, creates jobs and adds a new product to the market, and even creates an organic fertilizer for farming. It is this type of innovative thinking that moves us toward a more sustainable way of living.