OPINION: Whatever Happened to the Machine That Turns Feces Into Water?
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Earlier this year, I shared a video where I drank water made from feces. (My review: It was delicious.) Today the machine that produced the water, the Janicki Omni Processor – or JOP – is in Dakar, Senegal, as part of a pilot project that could ultimately save lives and reduce disease in poor countries.
You may recall that the JOP takes human waste and turns it into drinking water, electricity, and ash. (It is actually one of several Omni Processors being developed that treat human waste and produce something of value.) It’s tempting to focus on the drinking water, for obvious reasons. But the goal is not to provide water. The goal is to dramatically improve sanitation for all the cities in poor countries.
Today at least 2 billion people use latrines that aren’t properly drained, and diseases caused by poor sanitation kill some 700,000 children every year. Unfortunately, rich-world solutions aren’t feasible in poor countries – they require too much expensive infrastructure. The idea behind every Omni Processor design is to solve this problem by making sanitation affordable for the poor.