By CHARLES UGOCHUKWU CHARLES
Bill Gates drank water that had been raw sewage.
But Gates wasn’t taking on an unsanitary dare; he demonstrated the quality of a Gates-funded machine, the Janicki Omni Processor that turns sewage into electricity, ash, and drinking water which was developed by Janicki Bioenergy, the system can convert 14 tons of sewage into electricity and drinkable water each day.
Now that it’s being tested by Bill Gate, the system will help some of the 2 billion people who lack proper sanitation to remove pathogen-ridden sewage from their communities.
The first test took place in Dakar, Senegal, where 1.2 million residents don’t have a connection to a sewer line. As an alternative, they often remove sewage from pit latrines in buckets, placing the waste into holes dug in the ground nearby. It’s an ideal breeding ground for sanitation-related diseases including cholera and typhoid fever.
Mechanical emptying, a process in which trucks bring sewage to treatment plants, is better. But until the Omni Processor came along, Dakar didn’t have the technology to get rid of pathogens once sludge arrived at the treatment plants.
The city is now replacing treatment plants with an Omni Processor, which is treats a third of Dakar’s sludge while removing pathogens and producing useful byproducts. The next version of the machine will be able to handle regular garbage in addition to sewage.