In most developed countries, the problem of wastewater treatment has long been resolved, which cannot be said about developing countries. A system called NEWgenerator, developed by engineers at the University of South Florida (USF), is designed just for them. It is a mini wastewater treatment plant that alternately purifies water, generates energy and creates fertilizer from waste. The system will soon be deployed in South Africa.
NEWgenerator is not the first such project. For example, the Loowat system converts waste into biogas and fertilizer, and a team of scientists from Bristol has developed a pee power urinal that converts urine into electricity. Their colleagues at Cranfield University (UK) have created a nanomembrane waterless toilet that burns solid waste to produce fertilizer and electricity.
The recycling of waste in the NEWgenerator takes place in three stages. First, they enter the bioreactor, where anaerobic microorganisms break down the solid particles, converting them into biogas. This process takes place without the use of chemicals and aerobic equipment. The resulting methane is collected and can be used as fuel for cooking and power generation.
After that, the liquid waste goes to another chamber. There they pass through a microscopic porous membrane and are cleared of bacteria, viruses and remaining particulate matter. The final stage of water purification is chlorination, after which it can be used to flush toilets and irrigate crops.
And finally, solid waste can be processed into mineral nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers for fertilizing crops.
The first version of the NEWgenerator was installed in a community in India last year. More recently, USF researchers received a $ 1.14 million grant from the Bill Gates Foundation to develop two new versions for residents of Durban, South Africa.