Machine Turns Poop Into Drinking Water

Bill Gates says machine could get clean water to developing countries
By Shelley Hazen,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2015 2:17 PM CST

Poop isn't just poop, not if you're creative and dedicated to solving the world's sanitation problems. Now, thanks to a machine called the OmniProcessor, fecal matter can become clean water and electricity. "The water tasted as good as any I’ve had out of a bottle. … I would happily drink it every day. It’s that safe," Bill Gates, whose foundation helped fund the development of the machine, writes on his blog. The world's sanitation problem is a big one—40% of people relieve themselves in the open or have improper sanitation, and the waste of another 2 billion isn't properly disposed of, Wired reports. "Diseases caused by poor sanitation kill some 700,000 children every year," Gates writes. "Western toilets aren't the answer," because of the immense infrastructure required. Enter the OmniProcessor.

Its designer, Peter Janicki, says it's three machines in one: "a steam power plant, an incinerator, and a water filtration system," as Wired puts it. The size of two school buses, the machine processes waste from 100,000 people. A steam engine dries out raw sewage and boils sludge to separate solid waste from water. An incinerator then burns the solids to create steam that drives the engine and generates its own electricity. Meanwhile, the water vapor emitted by the sludge dryer is filtered and condensed back into water. Gates wants to get the $1.5 million machines to governments and entrepreneurs in India, Africa, and beyond, starting with Senegal this year, Business Insider reports. The machines will help "people … grow up in a healthy way," Gates says. "They’ll live much higher-quality lives. You will save a lot of lives." (Gates also put his money toward the Ebola fight.)

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