Would YOU drink poop water?

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”

Sang the suave Marty Robbins and the gorgeous Katy Perry.

But, can this literally be true in the field of wastewater?

Before I fill you in on this ingenious new technology, let me let you in on a few scary facts on the dire need for both sanitation and clean water.

  • At least 2 billion people still use toilet facilities that aren’t properly drained, others simply defecate out in the open (Gates, 2015).
  • Disease caused by poor sanitation kills 700,000 children a year (Gates, 2015).
  • Americans use 24 gallons of water each day to flush their toilets—approximately 5.8 billion gallons (Cho, 2011).
  • As many as 1.8 million people die each year from diarrhea linked to bad water and sanitation, most of them under age 5 (World Health Organisation, 2016).
  • Approximately 3.575 million people die each year from water-related diseases(water.org, 2016).
  • Global wa­ter demand is expected to increase by an overall 55% by 2050 (UNEP, 2015).
  • Some 2.6 billion people around the world, 980 million being children live without access to a toilet at home.
  • Poor sanitation is a global public health crisis, and is one of the primary reasons why 1.5 million children die every year from diarrhoea, according to Unicef (Salvin, 2015).
  • In low and middle-income countries, 1/3 of all healthcare facilities lack a safe water source (water.org, 2016).

 

As you can see, water scarcity, and the lack of clean water in general, is one of the main issues in the world. In the water and wastewater treatment industry, there are many other issues at hand as well. These include aging, damaged, and thus, inefficient infrastructure, lack of funding, increasingly stringent regulations, increased pollutants in the wastewater, and aging workforce. With sufficient funds being allocated, well structures regulatory frameworks (refer to my blog on regulatory frameworks here, and improved technologies, steps could be taken to combat some of these issues.

On a smaller scale, water can be used more efficiently at home as well. This could be achieved by harvesting rainwater, or re-using grey water for flushing toilets.Simple treatment methods (refer my vlog) can also be utilised to treat wastewater upto safe levels for utilisation. This decentralised approach would be a great step towards increasing resilience in wastewater treatment as well.

But what about sanitation? and what about limited access to water, let alone clean and drinkable water? What if their limited water resources is being used for sanitation?Developing countries such as those in Africa, and countries such as India come to mind.

What about a solution that solves both the water scarcity issue AND the sanitation issue?

Enough suspense. Let me tell you about this brilliant new technological unit called the Omniprocessor created by Janicki Bioenergy. It’s pretty brilliant!

What’s so special about it you ask?

  • It can help reduce sewage (Cool!)
  • It can convert that sewage into clean drinking water (Great!)
  • It can produce electricity (Brilliant!)
  • It destroys all pathogens (Awesome!), something many wastewater treatment plants have problems achieving (Refer to my blog: Wastewater: What’s in it?)
  • It also produces some ash as a by-product which can be applied as a fertilizer for crops (Wow! Is there anything this thing can’t do?!)

Oh wait, did I mention that it powers itself? (Nope, it’s not April fool’s day. Chill aite?)

So, how does it work?

Let me not bore you with more words. Check out my sketch below.

omniprocessor2
Want to see Bill Gates drink water which was poop moments before? Check the video below.

 

This ingenious wastewater treatment plant can convert 14 tons of sewage into potable water and electricity everyday!

A trial in the city of Dakar, Senegal, was relatively successful. 1.2 million people in the city aren’t connected to a sewage line. It did have reservations from the public due to the obvious concept on drinking their own waste. There was also a limitation of personnel with the required technical expertise to run the machinery. However, it now successfully treats 1/3 rd of the sewage sludge in the city.

What’s great about this?

Well it need not be used only in developing countries. The Janicki team hopes to incorporate most types of garbage into the input of the system, not only human sewage, so it can be used anywhere in the world. The improved version aims to produce 86,000 litres of potable water per day, and a net electricity generation of 250kW. To achieve this, the Omniprocessor would process waste from 100,000 people.

I personally think it would be amazing to utilise such a technology in locations such as Accra, Ghana, where fecal sludge has no functioning sewage treatment plant. Or in India, where untreated sewage is the major cause of water pollution, resulting in 1600 daily deaths by means of diarrhea, bringing about the slogan “Incredible India, drowning in its own excreta” among environmental activists. I think that this is definitely the future of wastewater engineering. Implementing such a technology as widely as possible, would undoubtedly have positive impacts on society, helping take a step closer to improved sanitation for people. Application of the technology can help minimise loads on existing wastewater treatment plants, thus increasing the efficiency and robustness of wastewater treatment.

Yes, I know your next question….

How much does it cost?

Sure, it may not be cheap, at 1.5 million dollars. However, according to Brian Arbogast, director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s water, sanitation and hygiene programme, says it could have advantages over traditional convention sewer based sanitation systems which cost tens of millions of dollars to buy, and, and then millions of dollars every year to maintain due to their high electricity consumption.

So, why not give it a try? I think it is definitely a promising investment opportunity for both entrepreneurs and the many NGOs trying to assist the developing countries.

In the words of Dr Mbaye Mbéguéré (Program coordinator-National Institute of Sanitation, Senegal):

“Drinking water is life, but sanitation is dignity”

 

If you’d like to hear a bit more about a few promising, cheap, ingenious, water treatment technologies that can be used in households, please watch my vlog below.

 

What are your thoughts on the Omniprocessor technology? and any comments on the technologies I mentioned in my vlog? and most importantly, would YOU drink poop water? Let me know in the comments below.

Thank you!

 

References

Cho, R., 2011. State of the planet. [Online]
Available at: http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2011/04/04/from-wastewater-to-drinking-water/
[Accessed 05 09 2016].

Engineeringforchange.org, 2012. Ten low-cost ways to treat water. [Online]
Available at: https://www.engineeringforchange.org/ten-low-cost-ways-to-treat-water/
[Accessed 06 09 2016].

Future Directions Internation Pty Ltd., 2016. Drought and Water Security in India. [Online]
Available at: http://www.futuredirections.org.au/publication/drought-water-security-india/
[Accessed 06 09 2016].

Gates, B., 2015. gatesnotes. [Online]
Available at: https://www.gatesnotes.com/Development/Omniprocessor-From-Poop-to-Potable
[Accessed 05 09 2016].

inhabitat, 2016. 6 Water-purifying Devices for Clean Drinking Water in the Developing World. [Online]
Available at: http://inhabitat.com/6-water-purifying-devices-for-clean-drinking-water-in-the-developing-world/
[Accessed 06 09 2016].

Salvin, T., 2015. How to turn human waste into drinking water – and more. [Online]
Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/jan/20/turning-human-waste-into-drinking-water
[Accessed 05 09 2016].

UNEP, 2015. Compendium of Water Quality Regulatory Frameworks: Which Water for Which Use?, s.l.: UNEP.

water.org, 2016. Facts About Water & Sanitation. [Online]
Available at: http://water.org/water-crisis/water-sanitation-facts/
[Accessed 05 09 2016].

water.org, 2016. India’s Water Crisis. [Online]
Available at: http://water.org/country/india/
[Accessed 05 09 2016].

World Health Organisation, 2016. Water sanitation hygiene. [Online]
Available at: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/diseases/burden/en/
[Accessed 05 09 2016].

 

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3 thoughts on “Would YOU drink poop water?”

  1. I love the lifestraw, it’s such a brilliant idea, and it is so easy to distribute. Great blog recyclingboy, I hadn’t heard of any of those other inventions so it’s great to see that there is real innovation in the world of wastewater. Looking forward to next week’s instalment.

    Like

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