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Bill Gates has recently drunk water distilled from human feces (sewer sludge) to showcase the Omniprocessor. The Omniprocessor, designed and built by Janicki Bioenergy, is a sewage treatment plant project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The machine takes in sewer sludge and outputs clean drinking water, electricity, and ash.

Bill Gates wrote: “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. ” Hundreds of millions of people are said to be without clean drinking water and billions don’t have proper toilets/sewage systems. Bill Gates is passionate in his philanthropic efforts to try to bring such modern technologies to the entire world. Gates writes “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.” and hopes that the Omniprocessor will be one of those ways.

The machine seems impressive and practical as Bill Gates detailed in his blog:

The Omniprocessor is a safe repository for human waste. Today, in many places without modern sewage systems, truckers take the waste from latrines and dump it into the nearest river or the ocean—or at a treatment facility that doesn’t actually treat the sewage. Either way, it often ends up in the water supply. If they took it to the Omniprocessor instead, it would be burned safely. The machine runs at such a high temperature (1000 degrees Celsius) that there’s no nasty smell; in fact it meets all the emissions standards set by the U.S. government.

Before we even started the tour, I had a question: Don’t modern sewage plants already incinerate waste? I learned that some just turn the waste into solids that are stored in the desert. Others burn it using diesel or some other fuel that they buy. That means they use a lot of energy, which makes them impractical in most poor countries.

The Omniprocessor solves that problem. 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.

Sources:
http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-30709273
http://www.gatesnotes.com/Development/Omniprocessor-From-Poop-to-Potable

So how do you feel about Bill Gates (one of the richest men in the world) drinking water derived from poop ? Would you be okay with drinking water that was recently sewer sludge ? Would you rather pay for water sourced from more traditional sources ? Let us know in the comments below.


John Rozger

John Rozger has a BA in Computer Science and is a fledgling software and video game developer. As a lifelong gamer he enjoys writing about the gaming industry as well as computing and technology.