The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030. However, 4.2 billion people worldwide still do not have access to safely managed sanitation services. Approximately 3.1 billion people rely on pit latrines, septic tanks and other improved on-site sanitation facilities. Excreta from such facilities, known as faecal sludge, can have detrimental environmental impacts, if they are not safely managed. Therefore, there is an urgent need for sustainable faecal sludge management (FSM) to safely manage human waste and contribute to a zero-pollution future.
The focus of this project is the assessment of novel treatment technologies, such as pyrolysis, that offer opportunities to develop a holistic FSM approach and provide wider environmental benefits through resource and energy recovery. The importance of adopting such a holistic approach is highlighted by the inter-related nature of the UN SDGs.
Resource recovery opportunities from faecal sludge pyrolysis include the production of a nutrient-rich biochar that can be used in agriculture, as a fertiliser or soil amendment, and therefore contributing to global food security. At the same time, the biochar is a carbon-rich material and its efficient application offers carbon sequestration benefits. Sludge derived fuels can be used as a greener alternative to fossil fuels, also contributing to climate change mitigation.
Maria obtained a MEng in Civil Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece in 2017. She then completed an MSc in Environmental Engineering at Imperial College London. After working at a global engineering consultancy, she joined Imperial College London as a PhD student in 2020. For this project, which is aligned with the Transition to Zero Pollution Initiative of the SSCP DTP, she is jointly supervised by Prof Michael Templeton and Dr Geoff Fowler.
 UNICEF, WHO (2019). Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2017: Special focus on inequalities. United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO), New York.