Microwave treatment of faecal sludge from intensively used toilets in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya

Peter M. Mawioo, Christine M. Hooijmans, Hector A. Garcia, D. Brdanovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


Toilet facilities in highly dense areas such as the slum and emergency settlements fill up rapidly; thus, requiring frequent emptying. Consequently, big quantities of fresh faecal sludge (FS) containing large amounts of pathogens are generated. Fast and efficient FS treatment technologies are therefore required for safe treatment and disposal of the FS in such conditions. This study explores the applicability of a microwave (MW) technology for the treatment of fresh FS obtained from urine-diverting dry toilets placed in slum settlements in Nairobi, Kenya. Two sample fractions containing 100 g and 200 g of FS were exposed to MW irradiation at three input MW power levels of 465, 1085 and 1550 W at different exposure times ranging from 0.5 to 14 min. The variation in the FS temperature, pathogen reduction via the destruction of E. coli and Ascaris lumbricoides eggs, and vol/wt reduction were measured during the MW treatment. It was demonstrated that the MW technology can rapidly and efficiently achieve complete reduction of E. coli and Ascaris lumbricoides eggs, and over 70% vol/wt reduction in the fresh FS. Furthermore, the successful evaluation of the MW technology under real field conditions demonstrated that MW irradiation can be applied for rapid treatment of fresh FS in situations such as urban slum and emergency conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-584
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2016


  • E. coli and Ascaris reduction
  • Emergency sanitation
  • Faecal sludge
  • Microwave treatment
  • Volume reduction


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