Billionaire Bill Gates promotes wastewater treatment
What do Microsoft and a low-cost wastewater treatment plant have in common? Bill Gates stands behind both of them.
The popular billionaire and philanthropist promotes development of a technology which turns feces into drinking water and electricity.
Almost 800 million people don’t have access to clean water and at least two billion people on Earth live in unsanitary conditions. A 2017 study suggests that over one million people die due to poor hygiene a year.
Dakar, Senegal, is one of the infamous examples. More than a million people didn’t have adequate sanitation only a few years ago. Most of the sewage was drained from the sewers directly into the gulf, and infectious diseases spread at alarming speed.
Drinking water and electricity made from waste
Microsoft founder Bill Gates could no longer tolerate the catastrophic conditions in developing countries. In 2012, he teamed up with Peter Janicki, the owner of an engineering firm Janicki Bioenergy.
Janicki has travelled to Africa several times to get acquainted with the issue and design a functional solution that could earn money for itself.
Omniprocessor is the result of Janicki's development. Its name might sound as another high-tech hack of the Microsoft’s game console, but it is in fact a low-cost wastewater treatment plant capable of converting human feces into drinking water and electricity.
The principle, on which the Omniprocessor is based, is easy yet ingenious. The feces from dry toilets enter the Omniprocessor where they are dried and the water evaporates. Then, the incinerator odorlessly burns dry solids at a high temperature.
Sewage incineration supplies heat energy and transforms it into vapour. A steam engine then produces the electricity which powers the entire machine. The steam is liquefied and drinking water is created.
Both TV show and a documentary
Bill Gates himself cleverly demonstrated that the machine works and the sewage water is drinkable in a TV show on NBC.
He brought both bottled water and the water from the Omniprocessor to the studio. Then, he challenged Jimmy Fallon, the host, to take a taste test. Gates, however, tricked him: he put “poop water” into both glasses.
The story of Omniprocessor is also incredibly presented in the first episode of the Netflix’s documentary Inside Bill's Brain. In case you want to explore this entrepreneur and philanthropist’s mind in a deeper way, don’t hesitate to watch the series.
How did it turn out? The pilot project started in Dakar and, as of today, the Omniprocessor cleans one third of the town’s fecal sludge and supplies clean and drinkable water to the residents. Bill Gates Foundation continues to work on solutions to improve sanitation conditions in the developing countries.
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