"I watched the piles of feces go up the conveyer belt and drop into a large bin. They made their way through the machine, getting boiled and treated. A few minutes later I took a long taste of the end result: a glass of delicious drinking water."
That's the word from Bill Gates, who you're about to see drink a tall glass of poop – well, water that was poop five minutes prior.
The billionaire head of The Gates Foundation has just detailed one of its most interesting projects – an "ingenious" machine called the Omniprocessor, which was designed by Janicki Bioenergy. The Omniprocessor takes solid waste and turns it into electricity, clean water, and a little bit of ash.
"Through the ingenious use of a steam engine, it produces more than enough energy to burn the next batch of waste. In other words, it powers itself, with electricity to spare. The next-generation processor, more advanced than the one I saw, will handle waste from 100,000 people, producing up to 86,000 liters of potable water a day and a net 250 kw of electricity," says Gates.
Cool. But why do we need to turn human waste into water?
"Because a shocking number of people, at least 2 billion, use latrines that aren’t properly drained. Others simply defecate out in the open. The waste contaminates drinking water for millions of people, with horrific consequences: Diseases caused by poor sanitation kill some 700,000 children every year, and they prevent many more from fully developing mentally and physically," says Gates.
Access to clean water, proper sanitation, and reliable electricity is far from a given in many parts of the world. The Omniprocessor solves all of these problems. Gates says it could be "many years" before this machine is getting wide usage, but he's excited about it.
Image via thegatesnotes, YouTube