Lori Zimmer

Portable Shipping Container Sewage System Turns Poop into Power

by , 07/26/13
filed under: Poo Power!

Supercritical Water Oxidization, portable sewage treatment, shipping container sewage treatment center, bill and melinda gates foundation, Duke Pratt School of Engineering, eco design, green design, raw sewage treatment, Reinvent the Toilet, sustainable designPhoto via Shutterstock

Students at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering are hard at work conquering a poop problem. The students recently received a grant of $1.18 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Reinvent the Toilet” competition for their innovative sewage processing system that fits inside a 20-foot shipping container. The system can help developing communities manage their own raw sewage, converting their waste to usable heat, water and energy.



Supercritical Water Oxidization, portable sewage treatment, shipping container sewage treatment center, bill and melinda gates foundation, Duke Pratt School of Engineering, eco design, green design, raw sewage treatment, Reinvent the Toilet, sustainable design

Small enough to transport in a shipping container, the Duke team’s system can effectively treat the raw sewage of a community of 1200 people.  The system is geared toward communities with no systems in place, other than dumping directly into the closest river or body of water, thus risking the contamination of water supply.

Inside the 20-foot shipping container, the waste passes through a complex system of heat and pressure, reducing it to Supercritical Water Oxidization, which is attained at 705 degrees Fahrenheit and with 3,200 pounds per square inch of pressure. The supercritical water is similar to gas, but also has the liquid property of being able to dissolve things. Combined with the sewage and oxygen, the process burns off the sludge and creates sterile water, carbon dioxide and salt, while producing heat. The heat can be cycled back into the sewage system, or used as a power source.

With the Gates grant, the Duke students will be able to further explore the sewage system, which could bring critical sewage control to developing communities, while also creating usable water and power.

+ Duke Pratt School of Engineering

Via TreeHugger

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1 Comment

  1. lulex December 26, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    This is an excellent concept for remote communities and Small First Nation’s reservations as well!

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