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Process Control & Automation of Drying, Gasification, and Heat Recovery Systems that turn "Poop" into Energy




EC: Edgerton Center

Faculty Supervisor:

Libby Hsu

Faculty email:


Apply by:



Julianna Rodriguez julesrod@mit.edu, Islam Genina genina@mit.edu

Project Description

Sanitation in many developing countries is limited. Sewage and fecal sludge are rarely treated before discharge into the environment. We are making a community scale portable machine to dry, gasify (burn), and recover energy from fecal sludge to be deployed in India at the neighborhood level, with a focus on crowded urban cities. Serving 50,000 people per unit per day. The goal of this UROP project is to control & automate the currently existing systems to arrive at a turnkey solution. The final product is a machine that safely treats poop with a click of a button. Automation examples include; automating the feeding of pellets into the gasifier and controlling the input air in correlation gasification rate, automating the dryer in correlation with the moisture content, ensuring a good balance between heat exchanger fluid flow and air flow rates, controlling operating parameters using PID, such as: airflow, temperature, motor speed among others. Most of the parameters are inferred from previous system modeling and design considerations.


Applicants should be interested in solutions for the ‘bottom billion’ and be passionate about applying technology and business to meet those needs. A background in electronics / EE / control & automation is required. • A Tech savvy who likes creating automated systems, from planning & coding to assembly & testing • Expert at working with electronics like Arduino/microcontrollers & sensors • Using PID to control actuators based on sensor inputs is highly recommended • Basic machine design and fabrication is recommended The nature of the work is multi-disciplinary, so someone who is willing to learn on the spot in fields they might not have experience in is absolutely necessary! The student will be expected to work along a team of researchers and industry advisors.