Remote Communities

Power and Clean Water from Local Resources


Frans Bezuidenhout the inventor of Ardau living in South Africa saw that on much of the continent local communities have no access to ­electricity and clean water. He resolved to find a way to bring these to remote locations using materials local people would have available. This was one of his two drivers for the design of the Ardau system. The second driver was the wasteful and polluting nature of electricity generation that he saw in power stations. He designed Ardau to address both these areas of concern.

He knew that to meet them required a system that could use local resources and could easily be transported to the communities that needed it.

So he designed Ardau with these needs in mind. A system that could use local waste and sewage as well as any other locally available materials. A system that could fit into a standard 40 foot container and be delivered by truck or helicopter. A system that would provide electricity and drinking water reliably and continually.

The smallest Ardau unit can provide 5MW of power. That is enough for around 3,000 families. For larger communities, units of up to 50MW are available.

The System

Ardau is a system that converts any carboniferous material into energy. A chemical reaction inside an enclosed Ardau pressure vessel extracts the maximum energy from the fuel. Heat and power are generated . The process is extremely efficient, and a wide range of materials can be used as fuel.

There is no new technology involved in the process. It uses tried and tested technologies in a new configuration.

Supercritical Fluid

Ardau in Operation

An Ardau installation consists of the multi-purpose Ardau pressure vessel and a turbo-expander together with devices to handle the inputs to the system and its outputs. The Ardau pressure vessel produces supercritical fluid (a form of superheated steam) at a very high temperature and pressure. This drives the turbo-expander to generate electricity. (Turbo-expanders with generator sets are very efficient producers of electricity and are a well-established technology.) As well as electricity the system outputs potable water.

Inorganic (unconsumed) matter drops out of the Ardau pressure vessel without disturbing its operation. Any valuable metals in this material can be recovered and sold. The residue is sterile and inert and can be used as a building material.

Ardau installations can operate 24/7 with only two hours downtime for cleaning each year, and a two-day maintenance programme every five years.


Ardau systems are not expensive to install or maintain and the space required is roughly that of a basketball court or two tennis courts.

Possible Fuels:

Any carboniferous material can be used to feed the chemical reaction. These include:

  • Fossil Fuels – Coal; Lignite; Coal Waste; Oil; Petroleum Coke
  • Biomass – Wood and Wood Waste; Agricultural Waste; Livestock Waste
  • General Waste – Plastics; Municipal Waste; Factory Waste; Medical Waste; Sewage

Outputs from Ardau systems:

Electricity As described earlier.

Output Gases The turbo expander outputs a mixture of gases, primarily carbon dioxide and nitrogen. These can all be captured and stored (carbon capture and storage). If required the different gases can be separated and sold.

Hydrogen Current methods of generating hydrogen are expensive. The output from an Ardau system can be used to produce hydrogen at a lower cost in two different ways:

  1. Some of the supercritical fluid from the Ardau pressure vessel is passed directly to a conventional ‘steam reforming’ installation where it supplies the heat necessary for that process.
  2. Some or all of the electricity from the turbo-expander is used to ‘split’ water to generate hydrogen in a standard ‘electrolyser’.

Because the Ardau pressure vessel generates power so efficiently the cost of the hydrogen produced is reduced significantly in both cases.

Pure Water Clean water is a by-product of the Ardau process, so the installation can function as a low cost desalination facility.

Who or What Can Benefit By Using Ardau?

  • Local Communities that can have their lives transformed by the availability of power and clean water
  • Regions and Countries seeking a better quality of life for their people