When you try to solve the world’s biggest problems, it’s often the simplest things that are the most difficult to tackle.
Take handling sewer and sanitation services in the developing world, for example.
As Microsoft-founder-turned-power-philanthropist Bill Gates explains on his blog, at least 2 billion people worldwide go to the bathroom either in facilities without proper sanitation hookups or just out in the open. This leads to disease, which he adds kills more than 700,000 children each year.
So why not just hook the world up to a Western-style sewage system? Won’t work. Our sewage system requires far too much costly infrastructure.
So while a poop machine that makes clean drinking water might seem like a goofy endeavor to those of us sitting just a few feet from a clean porcelain throne, it could be the difference between life and death for millions of people worldwide.
That’s exactly why Bill Gates and his Gates Foundation are really excited about the Omni Processor from Janicki Bioenergy, a group of super-smart engineers in Seattle, Washington. The idea is pretty great: Turn something you need to get rid of (doodie) into something you need badly, like clean water and energy.
You feed sewage sludge (gross) into the Omni Processor, heat it up and separate the water vapor. The water vapor is heated by the steam, which runs a generator that not only generates enough electricity to run the Omni Processor but additional energy that can be used throughout the surrounding community. Essentially it turns crap into something better than gold: clean water and light.
Check out this amazing video from Bill Gates about how the machine works. You can even watch him drink the cleaned poop water, which he says is as tasty as any bottled water he’s ever had.
Still not convinced? Fair enough.