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By Bill Gates

The occasion was a tour of a facility that burns human waste and produces water and electricity (plus a little ash). I have visited lots of similar sites, like power plants and paper mills, so when I heard about this one—it’s part of the Gates Foundation’s effort to improve sanitation in poor countries—I was eager to check it out.

The water tasted as good as any I’ve had out of a bottle. And having studied the engineering behind it, I would happily drink it every day. It’s that safe.
Here’s a short video from my visit in November, which explains how it all works:

Why would anyone want to turn waste into drinking water and electricity?

Because a shocking number of people, at least 2 billion, use latrines that aren’t properly drained. Others simply defecate out in the open. The waste contaminates drinking water for millions of people, with horrific consequences: Diseases caused by poor sanitation kill some 700,000 children every year, and they prevent many more from fully developing mentally and physically.

If we can develop safe, affordable ways to get rid of human waste, we can prevent many of those deaths and help more children grow up healthy.
Western toilets aren’t the answer, because they require a massive infrastructure of sewer lines and treatment plants that just isn’t feasible in many poor countries. So a few years ago our foundation put out a call for new solution.

One idea is to reinvent the toilet, which I’ve written about before.

Another idea—and the goal of the project I toured—is to reinvent the sewage treatment plant. 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.

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.

Before we even started the tour, I had a question: Don’t modern sewage plants already incinerate waste? I learned that some just turn the waste into solids that are stored in the desert. Others burn it using diesel or some other fuel that they buy. That means they use a lot of energy, which makes them impractical in most poor countries.
The Omniprocessor solves that problem. 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.

If we get it right, it will be a good example of how philanthropy can provide seed money that draws bright people to work on big problems, eventually creating a self-supporting industry. Our foundation is funding Janicki to do the development. It’s really amazing to see how they’ve embraced the work; founder Peter Janicki and his family have traveled to Africa and India multiple times so they can see the scope of the problem. Our goal is to make the processors cheap enough that entrepreneurs in low- and middle-income countries will want to invest in them and then start profitable waste-treatment businesses.

We still have a lot to learn before we get to that point. The next step is the pilot project; later this year, Janicki will set up an Omniprocessor in Dakar, Senegal, where they’ll study everything from how you connect with the local community (the team is already working with leaders there) to how you pick the most convenient location. They will also test one of the coolest things I saw on my tour: a system of sensors and webcams that will let Janicki’s engineers control the processor remotely and communicate with the team in Dakar so they can diagnose any problems that come up.

The history of philanthropy is littered with well-intentioned inventions that never deliver on their promise. Hopefully, these early steps will help us make sure the Omniprocessor doesn’t join the list. If things go well in Senegal, we’ll start looking for partners in the developing world. For example I think it could be a great fit in India, where there are lots of entrepreneurs who could own and operate the processors, as well as companies with the skill to manufacture many of the parts.

It might be many years before the processor is being used widely. But I was really impressed with Janicki’s engineering. And 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.

Source: www.gatesnotes.com

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Has anyone ever really looked into what actually goes into Energy Drinks? And the question is really though, do we care what we are putting into our bodies and what ingredients energy drinks actually hold.

A lot of people drink beer, alcohol, and do a lot of other harmful things to our bodies, so who is to say that we do care what energy drinks really do for our bodies. Anyone who is half way intelligent would look into what they are consuming and actually getting from the energy drinks.

Here are a list of the most common ingredients found in Energy Drinks.

1) Caffeine – It is probably the most common ingredient in energy drinks, as it acts as a big stimulant for people, which as well know is in the pop products we buy such as Pepsi, mountain dew, and other things such as coffee, but the key is that the caffeine is much higher quantity in energy drinks. From what I have looked at, most energy drinks contain around 100-200 mg of caffeine in them. This is why a lot of people feel the side effects of energy drinks is because the loaded amount of caffeine in energy drinks such as redbull, monster, and rockstar. This is something that most of us if we thought about it wouldn’t recommend for our everyday energy drink and source.

2) Taurine – I first learned about this in my previous company as it was the active ingredient in the product that was called OHM for energy drinks. Taurine is something that is naturally produced by the body, as it is supposed to help energy levels throughout the body. And usually your body makes enough of this so that you dont need to add extra to your body. And one of the things that they always talked about with taurine in energy drinks is that it could possibly help with stress levels as well. Again, something that isnt always the best for us on a day to day basis.

3) Guarana – It is derived from South America in plants and is supposed to be used for awareness and energy levels. It can be compared to caffeine but has a few different variations and stimulants.

4) B Vitamins – Well finally a word that seems to be good, vitamins. We all know the importance of vitamins and minerals because its what is supposed to be healthy for us. B Vitamins are supposed to wake up our bodies and kickstart them, and thats why energy drinks put these type of vitamins in them.

5) Ginseng – With the emergence of this supplement, its supposed to be a herb that is known to increase energy levels, and alleviate stress as well. Ginseng is created naturally by the body as well, but again the levels of supplementation and energy drinks dont match up well when you drink energy drinks on a regular basis.

6) Ginkgo Biloba – Along with ginseng, this is another emerging herb. It is supposed to help your memory, concentration, and blood circulation. This also is made for the regulating of stress levels.

7) L-Carnitine – Is naturally produced by your body and is supposed to help with your metabolism and energy levels. It is created by your liver and kidneys, but because it speeds up your metabolism it can often increase energy levels and thats the main reason why energy drinks hold this ingredient. It is supposed to give you endurance as well. The bad thing about this is that some people use this ingredient for support of their heart, so to much of this can speed up the heart and thats why you shouldnt take energy drinks to often.

8) Sugars – We all know about sugars. They are the bodys main fuel as we always hear dont go eating to much junk food as they are full of sugars. And thats why you get very hyper or active when consuming alot of sugars and energy drinks are loaded with them.

9) Antioxidants – These are actually a very good thing for your body, killing the free radicals in your body and recovering from the damage they can sometimes leave. Most vitamins contain some kind of antioxidants, but their are alot better ways of getting antioxidants than what energy drinks give you in the form of.

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