VIDEO: Bill Gates backs human waste to water project

A recent visit to 'a new kind of sewage treatment plant' saw Microsoft founder Bill Gates drink water procured from human waste, which the business magnate described as a 'delicious' and affordable way to improve sanitation in poor countries.

The Omni-Processor, designed and built by Seattle engineering firm Janicki Bioenergy, burns human waste to produce water and electricity.

In a recent blog post, Gates wrote that some sewage plants turn waste into solids that are stored in the desert, while others burn it using diesel. Both processes require a lot of energy which makes them impractical for use in poor countries.

The Omni-Processor, on the other hand, uses a steam engine to produce enough energy to burn the next batch of waste. In other words, it powers itself, with electricity to spare.

Real value

Later this year, Janicki will start its pilot project to set up an Omni-Processor in Dakar, Senegal to investigate the feasibility of a worldwide roll-out.

Gates wrote: “The next-generation processor, more advanced than the one I saw, will handle waste from 100,000 people, producing up to 86,000 litres of potable water a day and a net 250KW of electricity.

“If things go well in Senegal, we’ll start looking for partners in the developing world. For example I think it could be a great fit in India, where there are lots of entrepreneurs who could own and operate the processors, as well as companies with the skill to manufacture many of the parts.

“The processor wouldn’t just keep human waste out of the drinking water; it would turn waste into a commodity with real value in the marketplace. It’s the ultimate example of that old expression: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

VIDEO: how the Omni-Processor works

In November last year, British waste management and recycling firm Business Waste highlighted that power from human waste is ‘the ultimate in green energy’ that would cut the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels and dramatically reduce CO2 emissions.

Later that month, edie reported on the debut journey in Bristol of the UK’s first bus to be powered by human and food waste

Lois Vallely

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