More than 2.5 billion people around the world lack access to clean water, making them vulnerable to diseases. To help address this delicate world problem, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has funded Janicki Bioenergy to build the Omniprocessor – a self-contained system that processes nasty sludge and turns it into electricity, pathogen free ash and pure water. And to demonstrate how safe the water coming off the system is, Bill Gates himself tested it. “It’s water!” he smilingly exclaimed.
Because it’s self-contained, the Omniprocessor can be used anywhere in the world. You just have to install it, which makes it ideal for the developing world where more often then not there isn’t any sewage system. Also, because municipalities often pay to rid themselves of waste, the technology provides an incentive for entrepreneurs to buy the system and install it in their communities. It looks like a really great win-win. Communities get rid of the waste, entrepreneurs make money by selling excess electricity and water, and consumers gain access to the said water and electricity.
The details on how the Omniprocessor works are presented in the video below. The developers claim that the energy needed to boil the sludge comes from steam derived from the sludge in the first place, but I’m not entirely convinced that this is the sole energy input. The technology can make 86,000 litres of water every day, and also 250 kW of electricity, if it has the human poop from 100,000 people put into it.
The Omniprocessor is expected to commence a test run in Dakar, Senegal. Previously, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded other tech meant for developing countries like the solar-powered toilet or an oral vaccine for cholera.