PML has been awarded a 2nd Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to continue their development of a low-cost vortex system to separate faecal matter from waste water for use in developing countries.
Industrial scale, electrically-driven vortex separators are commonly used in the oil and food industries, however, these systems are not suitable for use in developing communities due to the high running and maintenance costs. PML’s simple hand or bicycle driven system can be used far more widely and will not only reduce the health risks associated with untreated sewage but also produce fertiliser and much needed irrigation water from the waste matter.
The original Phase I grant enabled the development of a small scale, manually-driven vortex system that also introduces agents to decontaminate the waste for recycling or safe disposal. Different biocidal agents were tested for their ability to kill bacteria and a range of methods were explored for removing other unwanted items, such as parasitic helminth eggs.
Phase II of the project will focus on the incorporation of a biocidal agent with the method for separating and removing helminth eggs into one vortex system, as each require different conditions for optimum performance. They will also perform field testing with experienced partners, and further optimize the systems’s design to reduce costs and promote easy use.
The system’s developer Dr Mike Allen, Molecular Biologist and Virologist at PML, commented:
“With the help of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we believe that this system could increase the amount of waste that is processed each day and will only require one person to do so. It will also allow the processing of effluent, with both a low and high percentage concentration of solids, and efficiently facilitate the treatment of the contaminated material for safe local discharge or recycling”.