In the Kenyan slum of Kibera, outside of Nairobi, an oven fueled by garbage is now in testing. At its heart is a superheated steel plate that vaporizes drops of water. The oxygen released burns discarded sump oil from vehicles, reaching even higher temperatures up to 930° Fahrenheit. Garbage is then used to maintain the heat.
Residents can use the oven to cook hot meals or make hot water for washing. The system's added benefit is that it reduces waste in the area, a problem that has gotten so bad that it is beginning to destroy Kenya's plains.
Recognized as the first of its kind, the concept has caught on quickly, and plans for 20 more are already in the works. As people are increasingly drawn to urban areas, excess waste is rapidly becoming a critical problem. There are still some obvious kinks to be worked out, such as containing the fumes from the burning garbage.
The oven was built with the help of a $10,000 grant from the United Nations Environment Programme. Advocates of the oven hope that the technology works well enough to be employed in large cities everywhere. [Christian Science Monitor via Treehugger]