What do you do when you learn that over 700,000 children die each year because of poor sanitation, but you know that western toilets, which require massive infrastructures that developing countries can’t provide, won’t solve the problem? Well, if you’re Bill Gates, you reinvent the toilet.
Thanks to his philanthropic Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates has helped to create a machine that has the potential to bring potable water to over 2 billion people globally.
The “Omniprocessor” is a machine that extracts water from sewage that’s piped into the treatment facility. The leftover dry sewage is then incinerated to generate steam, and this steam powers the entire machine.
To illustrate his faith in the project, Gates publicly drank a glass of water that, only minutes before, had been human feces.
As if turning waste into potable water wasn’t already a great idea, the energy produced by the extraction process is more than enough to power the machine, so the owner of these treatment facilities can actually turn a profit. Gates thinks the Omniprocessor would work particularly well in India and hopes that local governments and entrepreneurs will be interested enough to invest.
Gates has been on a mission to reinvent the toilet since 2012 when he offered a $400,000 prize to those who could pitch innovative ideas on how to solve the world’s sanitation crisis. Although he received many ideas from inventors, the Omniprocessor was unique in that it completely revolutionized the sewage treatment plant and, unlike many well-intentioned ideas, it actually delivers on its promise.
“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. It’s the ultimate example of that old expression: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” Gates wrote in his blog The Gates Notes.
Featured image courtesy of: Orzzzz
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