Thursday, January 8, 2015

Reassessing Small Wastewater Treatment Plants

The observations below by Bill Gates describe a concept for economical wastewater treatment in poor countries.  But if the idea pans out, why wouldn’t it work just as well for small communities in southeast Michigan and throughout the U.S.?

The innovation by the Janicki organization could be the impetus for several dozen new, small wastewater treatment plants in our region, enabling us to cut sewer rates, reduce polluted stormwater overflows and gradually dismantle the Detroit WWTP.

The new processor is relatively small.  It is said to have cost about $1.5 million.  

Gates wrote, “The occasion was a tour of a facility that burns human waste and produces water and electricity (plus a little ash).”

“...[T]he goal of the project I toured—is to reinvent the sewage treatment plant.”

“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.”

“Through the ingenious use of a steam engine, it produces more than enough energy to burn the next batch of waste. In other words, it powers itself, with electricity to spare. The next-generation processor, more advanced than the one I saw, will handle waste from 100,000 people, producing up to 86,000 liters of potable water a day and a net 250 kw of electricity.”

Don’t we have a responsibility here in southeastern Michigan to take a closer look?

Omni-Processor caption TK


  1. Michigan's 3rd largest city, Warren, at 130,000 residents has its own Waste Water Treatment Plant . Why can't other cities treat their own instead of burdening DWSD ?

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