If you were given a glass of water on your arrival at home on a hot day. You drank it without a second thought, only to be told that the water was an end product from sewage. What would be your first reaction? Gag? Indifference?

Janicki Bioenergy caught global attention in January 2015 when Microsoft CEO, Bill Gates reportedly drank water that had been transformed by a waste transformer from its poop state. Now, that same waste plant which was first situated at Washington, USA, has been taken to Dakar, Senegal.

The waste transformer is an Omniprocessor, a low-cost waste treatment plant. It combines a steam power plant, an incinerator, and a water filtration system into a machine, which converts 14 tons of sewage into potable water and electricity each day.

Specially designed for those countries with major sewage challenges, the Bill Gates’ Foundation sponsored plant is capable of producing not just clean and drinkable water but also electricity and ash.

Prior to August 11, 2015, Janicki Bioenergy was just another bio-energy company attempting to convert waste to something useful. Today, WHO certified company’s trial for converting feces to clean and drinkable water proved successful in Dakar.

About 24,383 gallons of sludge are processed daily. As the bioenergywebsite says, the sludge could be feces or even dry, combustible feedstock.  The plant can produce up to 150 – 250 kW of Electricity, 50,000 – 86,000 liters of Water and 1 m3 of Ash.

Bill Gates’ Foundation is a sponsor of this project as part of its Reinvent the Toilet Challenge. Bill Gates says the long term focus of this innovation is more on dramatically improving sanitation for poor countries. It is expected that the market price of this technology will be about $1.5m.

Sewage challenges are however not a problem restricted only to Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that globally, about 2.4 billion people lack safe means of disposal of excreta and waste water.

Same report says, poor waste disposal practices are responsible for a significant proportion of the world’s infectious disease burden. Diseases due to poor water supply, sanitation, personal and domestic hygiene cause 4.0% of all deaths and 5.7% of all disability or ill health in the world.

Would Africans be eager to drink water from poop?

The success of the omniprocessor is riding on the willingness of people to drink something that was once sewage. Like Bill Gates mentioned in his blog post; “You have to find the right personnel to run the machine.” “You have to work with local and national governments and gauge the public’s reaction.”

In some African countries, sewage is disposed through indiscriminate methods. This is one of the reasons why it may prove difficult for people on this side of the world to consider drinking it. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that sub-Saharan Africans have just 37% coverage from untreated sewage. These are liquid wastes containing a mixture of human feces and wastewater from bathing, washing, and cleaning.

The likelihood of Africans embracing this technology, however effective could be slim. A good number have been exposed to sewage in rural areas and the thought of drinking clean water from same sewage may not appeal to them.

“I do not believe people will be so eager to drink water that is a product of sewage”. “I remember Bill Gates pulled a stunt of drinking from the water plant early this year, but I don’t think he has tried it again ever since.” “Considering a lack of water supply in some cities, worrying about sewage may not be important to those living there” says Ogbonnaya Ukwuaba, a Renewable Energy Engineering student at Kingston University, England.

Source: Ventures AFRICA

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