Herman P. Miller III, PE
Founder of Environmental Developers Inc.
His Accomplishments, Goals, Objectives,
And Future Expectations
Herman P. Miller III, PE, President and founder of Environmental Developers Inc., an inventor and entrepreneur, is an energetic, imaginative, resourceful, and restlessly directed person, who has enjoyed the opportunity to work, study, research, and contribute at several levels, along parallel paths, in a number of major industries. Son of a prominent electronic pioneer of the early 1900s, Miller built his first radio at age 9, was an active radio amateur by age 13, joined the US Navy at the start of WWII at age 17 where he served as radar technician and flight crew in a bombing squadron whose crew members carried their own tool boxes and island hopped across the Pacific. After the war he earned an AA degree in engineering and worked as a licensed aircraft and engine mechanic and electronic technician while building flying time and rebuilding airplanes in his garage. By age 28 he had worked in aircraft manufacturing, electronic research, and served as a pilot for a major US airline (UAL) for two years, at which time he launched his first business enterprise, Bayside Electronics Inc., selling, installing, and servicing aircraft radio, autopilots, and instrumentation.
Dissatisfied and impatient with the progress of aircraft radio manufactures into the solid state market, Miller developed and produced the first completely solid state aircraft radio transceiver in 1960, flew his airplane around the world, setting up marketing and distribution while demonstrating and displaying the equipment in five major European air shows in 1966. The company had become a $10 million enterprise with 85 employees when a major fire destroyed it late in 1969.
Always optimistic and taking advantage of the break in his 16 hour-day schedule he returned to school and graduated with degrees in Electrical Engineering and Engineering Management from the University of the Pacific at age 50. A temporary job as an Engineering Inspector at a local wastewater treatment plant opened up a whole new vista of interesting new challenges and he spent the next 30 years as the Construction Manager, Resident Engineer and Inspector of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in Northern California.
Transitioning from the high-tech industries of aviation and electronics he found the technology level of the current wastewater industry to be far behind the sociological norm. In the past fifty years bigger plants have been built, with better mechanics to operate these plants but nothing has been done to improve the basic efficiency of the processes themselves. Before he had spent the first year in a wastewater plant he had started to put together the ideas for the first awkward steps toward the process that we now call VRADİ.
As a field engineer his office and bunkroom were right on the construction site where he worked and lived 24/5. A s a one man contractor to the plant owner, wearing the three hats of inspector, resident engineer and construction manager in plants that were being expanded to increase their capacity he had a perfect laboratory setup and researched his ideas after construction working hours and with the help of plant operators he was able to carry on full scale experiments.
It wasn't long before Miller recognized the potential of anaerobic digestion processes for solid waste as well as wastewater and at the same time realized why it was that processes were not being improved upon. General lethargy in the industry was only part of the problem; sewage treatment and garbage handling did not attract the greatest minds; experiments in a laboratory were hard to perform; the stench of rotting biosolids and their noxious gases were not conducive to pleasant working environments for most people, but like the farmer who feels at home with the smell of manure, Miller loves the smell of waste treatment. However, while Miller likes the smell he also knows that others do not, and his designs have always been totally enclosed allowing zero emissions to the atmosphere.
Miller also knew that wastewater was only part of the story. Cities had waste treatment plants because they had to, not because they wanted to, or ever thought of making money with the energy they could produce and only half hearted attempts were ever made to capitalize upon the profit aspect of waste water treatment. General waste and garbage were historically put into land fills or burned. Burning garbage and trash is not a good answer to getting rid of solid waste. In the first place, burning garbage and trash creates toxic dioxins in the stack gasses. Secondly, burning solid waste like current wastewater plants introduces large quantities of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Then, "Have you ever tried to start a fire with a wet log?" Miller asks. So much of the heat energy created by burning garbage and wet trash goes back into drying it out that the overall process is quite inefficient.
Miller did not restrict his research to wastewater but visited garbage and trash dumps and various solid waste plants, talked to the operators and researched the various methods of burning these waste products. He has for many years advocated the use of anaerobics in the solution to the disposal of these waste products and is totally committed to the combined treatment of all of these biosolid wastes.
In Miller's design of the VRADİ process that not only culminates 25 to 30 years of research into a process plant that is years ahead of today's waste industry but is futuristically designed to accept additives not yet discovered. Miller firmly believes that by adding other elements to the anaerobic waste process we will in the future produce end use by-products that will be worth more than just the energy value we produce today. In other words, with anaerobics we will someday be producing hydrogen directly and while we sequester carbon dioxide today, in the future we will be adding other elements or compounds to the anaerobic mix and be producing an end product from the carbon dioxide that has a much higher value than the carbon dioxide that we now mostly sell to soft drink manufactures.
Work is already going on in laboratories across the nation and around the world in this direction and the VRADİ plant will already accommodate these new additives. Herman Miller is not just a well grounded engineer that is completely practical in today's world, he is a scientist with one eye on the distant future.