Posts tagged water quality
After making his fair share of cash from starting one of the world biggest technology companies, Bill Gates has moved on to something more: saving the world. No, not in the cliche cape-and-spandex type of way, but more of a billionaire philanthropist type of way. He has already given billions and billions to charity, donating an astounding total of 95% of his life’s earnings and fortune to good causes. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is “Dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals around the world. From the education of students in Chicago, to the health of a young mother in Nigeria, we are catalysts of human promise everywhere.” as it says on their website. There are so many things that Gates’ fortune along with a whole lot of goodwill can do and already has done, but the reason I’m writing this is because of Bill Gates’ most recent endeavor: turning poo into water.
No, I’m not kidding. Teaming up with a couple of pretty brilliant engineers, one of them being the Janicki Bioenergy CEO, Peter Janicki, Gates has tested the Janicki Omniprocessor, a machine that takes waste and sewer sludge, as Gates calls it, and out of that makes energy, water, and pathogen-free ash. Again, not kidding. Their goal, of course, is to create a machine that, when used in growing and third-world countries, is not only profitable to the entrepreneur that owns the machine, but also that can help the community. In the end, the person running the unit will get paid for not only the water and electricity, but also the ash and sewer sludge. This very well may be a big step up in global higher standards of living, bringing electricity and clean water to developing countries, as currently, it’s pretty hard to lift a country or area out of poverty and poorer standards of living.
This is how the machine works. A conveyor belt brings the sludge into the machine (which the entrepreneur is getting paid for) and dumps it into a large high temp tube, which boils the sludge. The tube is so hot (1,832 Fahrenheit), in fact, that the sludge burning doesn’t even smell, unlike pretty much every other alternative for disposing of that kind of waste. This process removes all the water vapor from the sludge, and the vapor then gets shoved through a high-quality filtration system, which then creates high-quality water. If you don’t fancy drinking something that was poop only a few minutes ago, just watch Bill Gates do it in the video above and maybe you’ll change your view.
Once the sludge is now completely water free, it gets thrown into a large furnace, that heats it up to so much that really hot steam rises out of it, going straight into a custom steam engine, which drives a generator, creating: you guessed it, electricity. This electricity gets put back into the system to help power it, but it also can be sent out into the community, for the benefit of everyone. The entrepreneur again gets compensated for the output, adding one more source of income for the hard-working Janicki Omniprocessor manager. And finally, the entrepreneur gets paid for the ash too, because hey, why not. (Actually, they just haven’t said why they compensate for the ash, maybe just to add a little more incentive, but they did make it clear that they do pay for the ash)
The Janicki Omniprocessor isn’t yet ready to be used in developing countries, and there are sure to be some kinks to work out, but they are preparing for a field test in Senegal to see how well the community interacts and works with the machine. But in general, the machine is a remarkable piece of engineering, and certainly has a great potential to help the sanitation of the rising populations in growing nations all over the world.