In January, Bill Gates drank water that nearly 10 minutes before consumption was feces. Gates did this to illustrate the astonishing ability of a new machine called the Janicki Omniprocessor, a self-powered machine that turns human waste into clean drinking water.
This week, Gates announced in a video blog post that the Omniprocessor will see its first action in Dakar, Senegal — a West African city with a population of 3.4 million people.
Gates and Seattle-based Janicki Bioenergy wanted to begin their mission in Dakar because over a third of its population cannot currently dispose of their waste in a safe way. They have no access to the city’s’ sewer system, which results in them having to store their waste in pits and tanks.
Dakar’s inhabitants also can’t afford trucks to remove their waste, so they have to do it by hand, which is extremely dangerous as it exposes them to contamination and disease.
With the arrival of the new Omniprocessor technology, current waste management processes in the city will become obsolete. In addition to disposing of waste in a safe way, the machines also create clean drinking water, electricity and ash all at once.
Here’s how the Omniprocessor machines work: waste in the form of compounded sludge travel through the machines, generating enough electricity to not only self-power the processor, but also creating additional electricity to send to nearby power plants. The water vapor culled from the waste is then cycled and filtered until it is safe to consume. The ash that is left over can be molded into brick or be used for a variety of constructional purposes.
The new Janicki Omniprocessor will not only save the city money, but it will save thousands of lives and increase the overall living conditions.
There are currently 2 billion people globally who are in similar situations to the one faced by Dakar locals. According to Gates, the toxic living conditions resulting from poor sanitation kills over 700,000 children a year.