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Bill Gates drinks poo water

Video from thegatesnotes via Youtube

No, I’m not joking, he actually drank poo water. Ok, maybe I am being a bit dramatic (if not slightly misleading). This week on his blog, Gates Notes, Bill submitted a post about a revolutionary machine that creates pure clean water and electricity from human feces- an invention that could help billions across the world.

Introducing the Omniprocessor (it sounds like something from the future doesn’t it?!). This invention is part of the Gates Foundation's effort to improve sanitation across the developing world, and the way it works is actually pretty ingenious.

The sewage goes up a conveyor belt and is then boiled. As the feces boils it releases water vapor which is then captured by the machine and stored. The dried out waste then goes into an extremely hot fire that creates high pressured steam - steam that is then used to power the whole processor. The fire is that hot (over 1000 degrees Celsius), it doesn’t even leave a nasty smell. Any energy that is left over from the steam is then delivered back to the surrounding community. Finally, the water vapor that was captured at the start of the whole process is run through a very thorough cleaning process which then creates the purest water you could possibly imagine.

As clever as that all sounds, you may ask - why go to all that trouble for a glass of drinking water? Well there isn’t just one answer, there are hundreds of millions of them. In addition to the two billion people who still don’t have access to adequate sanitation, there are over half a billion people without access to clean drinking water. Really, the two issues are interconnected.

Poorly drained latrines and open defecation mean that a lot of the water supplies are contaminated with human feces that causes diseases to fester - something that has dire consequences for the people who have to drink it. Over 700,000 children die every year because of poor sanitation, with many more suffering physical and mental development issues. A machine like this could literally be a matter of life or death for these people.

The Omniprocessor is still years away from hitting the market, but it's very exciting nonetheless. As Bill Gates said himself, it’s the ultimate example of that old expression ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.’

If you think that's cool - sign the petition on this page to help ensure every child, everywhere has access to clean water and sanitation services.


Paul Abernethy