The fact that Bill Gates has pledged most of his wealth towards eradicating poverty, fighting disease and building sustainable livelihoods for the poor is common knowledge. However what sets his charitable organization, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation apart is the ingenuity with which how some of their solutions operate.
Recently a picture was released to the public that showed Bill Gates drinking a glass of water. Nothing extraordinary you may have initially thought. The remarkable thing is that the water was derived from a pile of human feces. The story soon went viral, and achieved exactly what Gates wanted it to. Raise awareness for a brilliant solution.
Omniprocessor turns 100,000 liters of sewage sludge into 86,000 liters of clean water and 250kW of power
The machine that achieves all this is called the “Omniprocessor” and has been developed by Janicki Bioenergy, an engineering firm based close to Seattle. It is about 38 feet wide and 66 feet long, and is able to convert 100,000 litres of sewer sludge to 86,000 litres of clean water as well as producing 250 kW of electricity daily.
The process is also not terribly complicated either. Sludge is fed into the Omniprocessor through conveyor belts where it is boiled. During boiling, water vapour separates from the solid sludge, which is then taken through a further cleaning process to produce pure water.
Leftover sludge is put into a furnace, producing steam, which in turns helps power a generator. The electricity is used for the machine itself, with excess available to power the surrounding community.
“The water tasted as good as any I’ve had out of a bottle,” wrote Gates in a blog post. “And having studied the engineering behind it, I’d happily drink it everyday.” Powerful words indeed.
According to Doulaye Kone, senior program officer for the project, the Omniprocessor will initially be set up in Senegal via a public-private partnership. There are also plans to make bigger versions of the machine to serve larger communities, as well as producing more electricity. At $1.5 million, the machine is also expected to recover its cost within a shorter timeframe, thereby adding to its viability.