eco-briefs

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Courtesy of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

FROM WASTE TO WATER 

As the resources for water and energy are depleted, the people tasked with creating innovative solutions to combat the issue have expanded their horizons. In early January, a video was released depicting Bill Gates drinking a glass of, well, human waste. Okay, not quite, but with the development of a new machine called the Janicki Omniprocessor, a contraption that can turn human waste into clean drinking water, solutions to help the 783 million people living without clean water are becoming a little clearer.

Funded by the Gates Foundation and developed by Peter Janicki, the machine operates by boiling “sewer sludge,” causing water to exit as steam that is filtered in its vapor phase and subsequently condensed before going through water treatment. After the treatment is completed, the pH of the water has been adjusted and cycled through numerous filters, making the water “indistinguishable from bottled water,” according to the processor’s website. Any solid waste that is left behind is cooked and converted to steam, which powers the Omniprocessor and also produces excess electricity that can be used by the community.

All drinking water produced by the machine meets both the United States’ Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organization’s clean water requirements, as well as meeting — or exceeding — all the applicable U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements.

The Model S100, which can produce 10,800 liters of water per day and up to 150 kW of power, is scheduled to ship to Dakar, Senegal in mid-February of this year, the first measure of the machine’s “real-world performance.”

The Omniprocessor’s S200 Model, scheduled for development by the spring of 2016, is estimated to produce a maximum of 86,000 liters of water per day, nearly eight times the maximum output of the S100 Model.

CLIMATE NOT THE ONLY CHANGE 

According to a poll conducted last month by the New York Times, Hispanics are “far more likely than whites to view global warming as a problem that affects them personally…[and] are far more likely to support policies, such as taxes and regulations on greenhouse gas pollution, aimed at curbing it,” as stated in the Times’ article detailing the findings of the survey.

Conducted in January in conjunction with Stanford University and Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan environmental research group, 54 percent of the Hispanic residents who were polled rated global warming as “extremely or very important to them personally,” compared to 37 percent of whites, with 63 percent of Hispanics saying the federal government should “act broadly to address global warming.”

Contesting the idea that environmental politics and policy is largely a concern of “affluent, white liberals,” the survey highlights that Hispanics are often more exposed to pollution, living in neighborhoods near highways and power plants, as expressed in the article by Gabriel Sanchez, a professor of political science at the University of New Mexico.

With Census Bureau data estimating that the U.S. Hispanic population topped 54 million in July 2013, these findings could hold sway on the campaign trail, with the fast approaching 2016 presidential election just around the corner.