Re-Locate partnered with the Climate Foundation and Theresa Theuretzbacher from BOKU University in Vienna, Austria to develop a concept design for a new waste management system in Kivalina. Technologically, this system is built around the use of urine diversion dry toilets in-home and a containerized, relocatable solid waste refinery that converts human solid waste into a 90% carbon biochar.
The technologies we proposed are readily transported by shipping containers to future village relocation sites being planned in response to the impacts of climate change on Kivalina. The use of biochar reactors as a refinery for human waste was initially developed for sub-Saharan Africa, through funding from the Gates Foundation, to process waste into energy, biochar, and useful raw materials. Subsequent to this concept development work, Re-Locate has adapted containerized biochar reactor technology to Arctic conditions and formed a small business for its commercialization and further development. See Re-Locate LLC.
Local relationships, roles, and responsibilities are critical to understand, visualize, and integrate into the design of any new waste management plan. Biochar systems and dry toilets play an important role, but the success of the technology depends on its effective integration with and support of the autonomously functioning practices that are operating in the village already.