Yes you herd that right, Bill Gates is working towards turning your poop into clean drinking water. This has been achieved with a machine created by the Washington-based engineering firm Janicki Bioenergy, which is now receiving funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation so as to further develop the technology.
This machine, dubbed the “Omniprocessor,” according to the the billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist is a steam-powered sewage processor that burns up solid waste and creates both potable water and electricity, he calls it an “ingenious machine”.
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.
But why exactly would anyone want to turn waste into drinking water an electricity? At least 2 billion people in the world make use of latrines that are not properly drained, said Gates, those that don’t have access to latrines defecate in the open, this poor waste management causes water (which is taken by millions of people around the globe) to be contaminated. According to Gates, this results in disease that kills about 700,000 children every year, and stunts the physical and mental development of many more.
If we can develop safe, affordable ways to get rid of human waste, we can prevent many of those deaths and help more children grow up healthy
For some building more toilets may solve this problem, but Bill has a better plan, according to him; “Western toilets aren’t the answer, because they require a massive infrastructure of sewer lines and treatment plants that just isn’t feasible in many poor countries, he said, but, a sewage treatment machine like the Omniprocessor may work in such places.
How it works
When solid waste is loaded up in this machine, it travels up a conveyor belt and is fed into large tubes called the dryers which boils the sludge (solid waste), as the sludge boils, the liquid is removed and captured as water vapor, this is then heavily processed, making it suitable to drink.
The solid waste gotten from this process is burned in an incinerator, this creates heat. The heat passes through a steam engine, which produces high-temperature steam that fuels a generator. The generator then creates electricity which is then used to power the machine. This machine sustains itself.
This machine can handle about 14 tons of waste per day, according to the Gates Foundation, it’s large enough to continually process sewage from a community of about 100,000 people.
The Omniprocessor will be launched soon in a pilot project in Dakar, Senegal, where Janicki engineers will study and test it’s operation in a real-world setting, in addition to testing its operations and explaining to the local community on how it works, Janicki team’s will also run tests to ensure the engineers in the United States can control the machine remotely. The Omniprocessor will be sold to local entrepreneurs for about $1.5 million.
“It might be many years before the processor is being used widely,” Gates wrote in his blog post. “But I was really impressed with Janicki’s engineering. And I’m excited about the business model. The processor wouldn’t just keep human waste out of the drinking water; it would turn waste into a commodity with real value in the marketplace. It’s the ultimate example of that old expression: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
Apart from the fact that the Omniprocessor can be used to solve waste management issues, Gates also believes the machine can help solve one of the developing world’s biggest problems — access to clean water.
One man’s poop is another man’s water. What do you think?
William Henry “Bill” Gates III (born October 28, 1955) is an American business magnate, entrepreneur, philanthropist, investor, and computer programmer. In 1975, Gates and Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft, which became the world’s largest PC software company. Gates is one of the best-known entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution. Later in his career Gates pursued a number of philanthropic endeavors, donating large amounts of money to various charitable organizations and scientific research programs through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, established in 2000. Gates is currently the wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of US$77.3 billion.