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Bill Gates Highlights Omniprocessor Technology That Turns Human Waste into Clean Drinking Water

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In many developing countries, there’s no safe way to dispose of human waste. In the developed world, there’s an infrastructure of sewer systems that handle our waste for us; a luxury that many across the globe don’t get to experience.

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Instead, they’re forced to defecate in latrines that aren’t properly drained, or simply rid their waste out in the open. It’s an unfortunate way to live, and it has serious consequences when it comes to their drinking water.

For years, there was no other choice. But now Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, is promoting a company that has found a way to turn human waste into clean drinking water and electricity.

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Also read: Microsoft Virtual Reality Development for Xbox One Confirmed

Gates explained on his blog:

The project is called the Omniprocessor, and it was designed and built by Janicki Bioenergy, an engineering firm based north of Seattle. I recently went to Janicki’s headquarters to check out an Omniprocessor before the start of a pilot project in Senegal.

Gates continued, explaining a usage situation for the Omniprocessor.

The Omniprocessor is a safe repository for human waste. Today, in many places without modern sewage systems, truckers take the waste from latrines and dump it into the nearest river or the ocean—or at a treatment facility that doesn’t actually treat the sewage. Either way, it often ends up in the water supply. If they took it to the Omniprocessor instead, it would be burned safely. The machine runs at such a high temperature (1000 degrees Celsius) that there’s no nasty smell; in fact it meets all the emissions standards set by the U.S. government.

How the Omniprocessor Works

OmniprocessorIn a video published by Gates, Peter Janicki explains how the Omniprocessor takes waste and sewer sludge through a series of steps to convert it into clean drinking water and electricity.

First, the sludge travels from its container to a heating conveyor belt, where it’s boiled as it moves. The machine pulls the water vapor from the conveyor. The dry waste is then sent into a furnace, where it’s burned and produces steam.

The steam is then sent to a steam engine that drives the Omniprocessor generator, powering the processor and putting out excess electricity that can then be fed to the surrounding community.

The water vapor moves through a cleaning system and is pushed out from a spout when it’s clean and pure.

The person who owns the Omniprocessor can then make money with the waste, the electricity produced, the clean drinking water and the ash left over at the end, making it a positive for-profit endeavor.

According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the first stop for the Omniprocessor is Senegal. Gates said:

If things go well in Senegal, we’ll start looking for partners in the developing world. I’m excited about the business model. The processor wouldn’t just keep human waste out of the drinking water; it would turn waste into a commodity with real value in the marketplace. It’s the ultimate example of that old expression: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Images from Wikimedia Commons and The Gates Notes.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. brioche

    January 7, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Very happy to see this project. This will make a huge difference for many people.

  2. Bitcoins and Gravy

    January 9, 2015 at 12:34 am

    The waste from one human being can adequately fertilize 1 acre of farm land.

    Human urine can be turned into a white powder rich in nutrients and perfect for fertilizing plants.
    Very low cost. Very smart.

    The “Humanure” movement (!) has been around for years. Look it up!

    MUCH has been written about how to safely use human waste for fertilizing gardens and small farms.
    But since people are so squeamish about human waste, these movements are largely underground.

    There’s a lot that the average person will never even hear about. For example, one of the main ingredients in urine is Urea. Urea has been used in cosmetics for several hundred years. Urea has been and may still be used by pharmaceutical companies in products such as Premarine. Urea is bought and sold like a commodity. Look up Premarine. You might be surprised.

    In India there are special toilets that are like vertical tubes in the ground. People defecate in them.
    It takes years to fill them. When they are filled, they are capped and sealed and allowed to sit for a long, long time. When they are unsealed, they contain dried shit that has no smell and is rich in nutrients and perfect for fertilizing crops. Very low cost. Very smart.

    Tech isn’t always the answer but I guess with the growing trend of paranoia and a fear of getting your hands dirty, tech seems preferable to truly low cost, viable alternatives.

    This world just needs more people willing to take off their Disney ears (dunce caps) and put on their thinking caps.

  3. CakeBet

    January 14, 2015 at 1:32 am

    cool

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Artificial Intelligence

Beware Uber Drivers! The Robot Cars Are Coming

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Uber Self-Driving Car

Uber announced that that the world’s first self-driving Uber cars are on the road in Pittsburgh, the Steel City. The road ahead is still long, but the implications are staggering.

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Lifestyle

GPU-Maker Nvidia Moving into Autonomous Vehicles with Chinese Search Giant Baidu

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Nvidia and Baidu, which is basically the Chinese version of Google, are teaming up to create a “cloud-to-car” autonomous car platform for auto manufacturers worldwide.

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Communication

The DEA Digs Your Instagram Bong Selfies

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It will come as no surprise to the average Hacked reader that the government is interested in their social media activity. People talk, and a lot of times, give themselves away, even when doing things which can get them in lots of trouble. Thus the DEA, FBI & Secret Service, all of course with some help from the NSA, are quite keen to know what’s going on with social media.

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Specifically the DEA revealed as much in their 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment, an annual report the agency publishes. On page 80, they write:

Social media reflects how younger people perceive marijuana use as evidenced by various Internet searches that demonstrate minors using marijuana publicly and with impunity. Social media users of all ages, but primarily younger individuals, have posted hundreds of thousands of photos of themselves with marijuana products on various social media sites; these photos are associated with hashtags that represent marijuana (e.g. #420, #710, #BHO, #dabs). In 2014, approximately 1,200 new photos and videos were posted to Instagram® each day associated with the hashtag #BHO, a slang term for marijuana concentrates.

In November 2014, after the success of a popular online challenge, another social media challenge was issued for people to post photos and videos of themselves using marijuana in public places with the corresponding hashtag #loudchallenge. In response to the challenge, people have posted videos of themselves using marijuana in restaurants, in airports, on public transportation, and in classrooms.

The report also discusses the up-tick in explosions caused by butane extraction of THC, which then yields a form of hash popular nowadays known as “dabs.” While it’s technically never been illegal to take or post a photo of drug activity, it is not always advisable in states where the prohibition of the plant is still a reality.

Also read: Don’t Worry #EDM Fans – You Can Still Search Your Favorite Instagram Hashtag

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But even in legal states, it can be a bad idea to post pictures of grow operations that have not followed the letter of the law, as Susan Squibb of the Cannabist cautioned Coloradans earlier this year:

So, it’s O.K. by state law to post online photos of your home grow, but [Colorado Attorney Lauren] Davis mentions there may be other risks. One factor to consider is whether the photos show off a garden compliant with local laws. Davis says, “If you are not within your legal limits (e.g. your town has a plant cap), you could be facing law enforcement scrutiny for the posting.” So make sure your garden is compliant before posting photos.

Big Brother is watching, and he’d rather you punish your liver than light up that bong. So take all the pictures of kegs and booze you want, those are considered past times. But take the wrong picture of yourself doing something with marijuana and you might find yourself in trouble, as Jeremy Clayton found out last year.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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