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National Geographic’s Energy Man


I know, I know, I am not supposed to have favorites, but in the 2009 class of Emerging Explorers, I will say, I am particularly fond of the extremely talkative and fun T.H. Culhane. T.H. and his wife Sybille are passionate about energy and garbage. In fact, they are so committed to investigating new ways of approaching energy problems that they moved into a slum in Cairo, and are teaching the people there how to make solar water heaters from recycled materials and biogas from trash. I can’t imagine a more daunting proposition, but T.H. approaches this with a contagious, positive attitude.

T.H. was featured in a National Geographic News article entitled Cairo Slums Get Energy Makeover. T.H. explains how his nonprofit Solar C3.I.T.I.E.S. (Connecting Community Catalysts Integrating Technologies for Industrial Ecology Systems) has built 34 solar-powered hot water systems and 5 biogas reactors in Cairo.

In the video below, T.H. learns about Dr. Anand Karve’s kitchen-waste biogas digesters from one of the staff of ARTI (The Appropriate Rural Technology Institute).

In addition to the many instructional videos on his YouTube channel, T.H. also provides amazingly detailed, step-by-step instructions for creating a solar hot water for anyone interested in taking on this task.


I am so proud that National Geographic is supporting T.H’s work. And I can’t wait to learn more about his project this fall with Frank Di Massa to add solar and water-recycling units to a home in a low-income Hispanic neighborhood in Santa Rosa, California.

Images and video courtesy T.H. Culhane and Solar C3.I.T.I.E.S