Bill Gates has long been focused on finding better ways to manage sanitation processes — and build better toilets — for developing nations. A big part of that has included finding ways to conserve water.
Now Gates reveals another landmark step in the direction of turning waste into everyday resources. The OmniProcessor, designed and built by Janicki Bioenergy, an engineering firm north of Seattle, takes human waste and turns it into clean drinking water, electricity and clean ash.
Gates opens the video by explaining that nearly 2.5 billion of the world’s population doesn’t have access to safe sanitation — a huge problem as it causes serious and preventable diseases around the globe. A mere five minutes after they crank up the machine, he’s sipping “a glass of delicious drinking water” and smiling, according to his blog post on Gates Notes.
The water tasted as good as any I’ve had out of a bottle. And having studied the engineering behind it, I would happily drink it every day. It’s that safe.
How does it work? “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,” Gates writes. The machine is headed to Senegal for a pilot program later this year.
This is just one more step in the Gates Foundation’s efforts to create better toilet and sewer systems, i.e. eliminating the need for complex infrastructures and cutting down on water waste, and to develop ways to recycle sewage back into valuable resources. As we reported last year, researchers at Duke University and the University of Missouri, who secured the $100,000 as part of the 2012 “Reinvent the Toilet” competition, also received $1.18 million more in 2013 to develop a system that turns sewage into water and electricity.
Check out this incredible processor, which could easily be installed in developing nations, below: