For years, the Gates Foundation has been looking for a machine that could make contaminated water safe to drink.
More than 2.5 billion people on earth have no reliable access to clean drinking water, so the humanitarian implications of such a machine would be immense. With the Janicki Omniprocessor, the Gates Foundation thinks it’s found the best way to do it, converting sewer sludge into water, electricity, and sterile ash that can be used as fertilizer.
Microsoft founder and philanthropist William “Bill” Gates III said his Gates Foundation is funding the machine, whose product he recently tested—and tasted.
As he writes in a blog post:
“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…
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…
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.