December 16, 2011
The Washington Math Science Technology School Biodigester was built by Solar CITIES co-founder Mostafa Darsh Hussein while visiting Washington DC on an exchange program. Culhane had previously led a biogas workshop at the school.
The story is an endearing one. One of the students had read an article about Solar CITIES and Culhane in National Geographic. She wrote Culhane an email asking if she and her friends could try and build a digester at their school like the ones Culhane had built in Africa. The email happened to arrive in Culhane’s inbox the night he arrived in DC for an Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) education conference. He immediately wrote back saying he was in DC by chance and had the morning free the following day and would be happy to come by the school if it could be arranged on such short notice.
At 7:30 the following morning, Culhane got a call from Vivienne Forrester, the program coordinator, inviting him to the school to give a presentation. He spent the day at the school presenting to the students and science faculty, among them Carsten Binsner and Mohammed Nouristani, who agreed to build a biodigester with the students. Culhane arranged for an Insinkerator to be sent to the school and Mostafa agreed to spend time each week during the month he was doing his internship in renewable energy in DC helping build the digester.
We received this email a few weeks later from Vivienne:
“Dear Dr. Culhane,
I am happy to report that the Biogas project is going great, we have set up the individual projects for the students and started the big one. Mustafa, the students, Mr. Nouristani, I and a few other teachers met at the school on Saturday and set up the large system, we are using the 3-barrel approach as you suggested. The food will be placed in the barrel on Monday, so the breaking down process can begin!”
These are the gratifying results that we can achieve through the Solar CITIES open source approach. We hope more schools will join in the fun!