In November, we reported on a new bus in the UK that's powered by poop. Well, now there's another scatological venture in town, and — brace yourself — it involves water. Bill Gates wants to turn poop into drinking water. In order to prove his dedication to the cause, he actually takes a sip of it on camera.
"I watched the piles of feces go up the conveyor belt and drop into a large bin," Gates, the Microsoft cofounder and billionaire philanthropist, wrote in a blog post on Monday. "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."
The crudeness of putting "poop" and "drinking" in the same sentence seems intentional — it grabs your attention immediately. You might think, If Bill Gates did it, I could, too.
And not only does Gates do it, he says he would "happily drink it everyday" because it's not only safe but also "delicious" and "as good as any [he's] had out of the bottle."
In his post, Gates claims that a new machine can turn human feces into not only clean drinking water but also electricity and ash — which can save a huge number of lives.
The machine, called the Omniprocessor, was designed and built by Janicki Bioenergy and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The facility would try to prevent diseases caused by contaminated water supplies.
He says that a future processor, with more advanced technology, would ideally handle waste from "100,000 people, producing up to 86,000 liters of potable water a day and a net of 250 kw of electricity." Aside from eventually saving lives with this technology, he also wants to demonstrate how philanthropy can raise money to attract intelligent people to work on the big issues of the world — "eventually creating a self-supporting industry."
So how does the machine work? It heats the feces to 1,832°F to draw off the water, which is then further treated. The dried out feces is then burned, which produces enough heat to generate electricity needed to extract the water.
Gates says that diseases caused by poor sanitation kill some 700,000 children every year. In these places, sewage often ends up in the water supply because truckers take the waste from latrines and dump it into the nearest body of water — which is often a treatment facility that doesn't actually treat the sewage.
His foundation is launching as a pilot project in Senegal but might not be widely available for a few years to come.
In the video, he silences all the skeptics — or shall we say poo-poo'ers — by (literally) putting his money where he mouth is. "It's water!" he says with a smile, after taking his first sip.
You can watch the video from Gates' blog below: