Resource Prism

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Resource Prism

Amsterdam, NetherlandsAmsterdam, Netherlands
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Resource Prism (RP) turns human waste streams them into nutrients, energy and clean water. It treats organic flows as resource mines rather than as pollutants. It promotes health through improved sanitation and independence from commercial fertilizers, enabling cradle to cradle food production.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

2.5 billion people worldwide lack of access to improved sanitation. Human settlements are net consumers of energy and nutrients. While human waste streams are rich in energy and nutrients, these resources are treated as pollutants in conventional treatment. Bearing in mind the finite nature of phosphorus reserves and highly energy demanding nitrogen fertilizer production, this is not a sustainable situation. The systemic problem of viewing organic flows as waste is manifested in expensive and proprietary centralized facilities that remain inflexible to local context. The way in which people engage with sanitation and water is however deeply culturally rooted and requires careful consideration for any solution to be effective.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The RP is designed as an integrated sanitation and waste management system which enables maximum recovery of resources, while ensuring sanitation and personal safety. The system is modular, allowing functions to be adapted to specific needs of communities. It is being developed in a bottom up manner with direct feedback on user experience and needs. It can include composting and anaerobic digestion as well as biological and chemical nutrient recovery. The recovered resources can be used for integrated food production (e.g. vegetables and fish) based on treated household washwater. These are proven technologies which we are re-developing from a DIY perspective, using standardized, readily available and affordable materials such as IBCs and unused barrels whenever possible. We are thus creating blueprints for sustainable sanitation solutions applicable worldwide and easily translated to more standardized products and services.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Consider the following scenarios: A community living in a slum along a polluted canal in Chiang Mei, Thailand comes together with local NGOs and outside knowledge partners. After being thoroughly informed about to the range of possible solutions, they decide on a configuration that fits their needs. Out of the group those willing to participate receive training in the construction and maintenance of anaerobic digesters, struvite reactors and biofilters. Soon after, the community operates it’s own 40-family digester on kitchen- and human waste. They fertilize and irrigate a community garden and can harvest fresh local produce. They also produce fish and can enjoy healthy meals, cooked on biogas. A lower middle class family in Detroit, USA faces gas and water shortage, because the local utility company went bankrupt. They buy a DIY kit for kitchen waste digestion and greywater treatment, allowing them cook and shower again. A mining operation in the Pilbarra desert of Australia integrates the full Resource Prism with solar power and geodesic heat recovery. Besides bringing a batch of water It becomes independent of any infrastructure and leaves no harmful traces on the land. The modular nature of the Resource Prism allows customized solutions on the level of development work, DIY and commercial applications.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Together with a growing number of partners (e.g. Wageningen-, Delft- and Cologne-University, Paques, Biopolus, and NIOO-KNAW) we are establishing a platform for open innovation in sanitation. The RP can be equipped with an array of sensors that will provide measurements on the amount of energy, nutrients and water recovered. Together with gathered user experiences from the two pilot sites (Chiang Mei & deCeuvel) this data will be openly available to users and other initiatives. It will be used to adapt functionality of RP to various situations and scales. By partnering with local entrepreneurs and providing knowledge transfer to train maintenance personnel we will ensure the ongoing operation and social benefit of the system. We are aiming at democratizing clean technologies and empowering people in urbanized and rural areas to take sanitation and resource recovery into their own hands.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Metabolic has secured a partnership with Waternet (public water utility of Amsterdam) to cover the costs of the first piloting process. Once the pilot is functional, it will be displayed on the Cleantech playground at de Ceuvel (, which will boost the ongoing fund-raising. The initial markets are assumed to be ecological housing initiatives and subsidized deployment in developing world, combined with social business models.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Several companies are engaged in promoting ecological sanitation in the developing world. ”Wherever the Need” produces urine diverting toilets including a system of selling the fertilizer. “Amalooloo” has the option of integrated food production into their sanitation system, while “Loowatt” includes the production of biogas (anaerobic digestion). The Resource Prism combines these features, integrating options for production of biogas as well as Struvite and biomass harvesting. It can further be modulated to local requirements and its open-innovation approach will allow constant optimization and expansion of the system.

Founding Story

The Resource Prism has its roots in the Desar concept, developed by leading academics at Wageningen University as well as the concept ecological engineering. Studying resource recovery techniques, Maxim saw the disparity between what is possible and what is in use. To get rid of this locked-in situation, he designed this system as a hub for open innovation. In his MSc work on Curaçao, Bastian has experienced the misery improper sanitation and waste disposal can cause both for humans and the natural environment. He is now excited to use his knowledge in microbiology in applied settings. The project is carried out by an entrepeneurial team of (mechanical- and wastewater-) engineers, designers and strategists ( and supported by a range of knowledge partners. Together we have set out to make sustainable waste management and nutrient recovery available to anyone.
About You
About You
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Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name


Organization Country

, Amsterdam

Country where this project is creating social impact

, NH, Amsterdam

Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them

Metabolic has received an award from Innovatie netwerk to transform a contaminated former shipyard (deCeuvel) into a showcase for sustainable development (cleantech playground). This site will be our main base of operations, including research and development and showcase for the Resource Prism.

Nutrients For All
Where do you ensure the availability of nutrients?

Healthy environments., Nutrient-rich farming, Human wellness and vitality.

If you had greater capacity, which additional sectors would you like your solution to target - either through expansion, partnership, or thought exchange?

Full nourishment foods.

How specifically would this added capacity help you improve the quality, efficiency, or sustainability of your existing product or service?

The strength of the Resource Prism lies in its modularity. Virtually any food producing system (e.g. crops, mushrooms, fish...) can be incorporated and fed by the recovered nutrients. Therefore, the nutritive value produced by the system can be enhanced. Applying such innovative technologies will require further R&D activity and fine tuning. We hope to build a strong network of parties dedicated to healthy and sustainable development around this system. The open access to collected data will allow true innovation in the field of resource recovery and reuse.


Bastian Piltz's picture

It is not waste if you do not waste it!