Two years ago, The Gates Foundation's Reinventing the Toilet Challenge sought to design basic sanitation for those who don't have it—a staggering 40% of Earth's population. Now Bill Gates is taking it a step further, backing a machine that can solve two pressing problems at once. The Omniprocessor, as it's called, not only gets rid of feces, but turns them into clean water.
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.
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.
Developed by Seattle-based engineering firm Janicki Bioenergy, the machine cleanly burns feces at a temperature so hot that "there's no nasty smell," according to Gates. "In fact it meets all the emissions standards set by the U.S. government." And while producing drinking water is impressive enough, that's not even the kicker: The machine also generates electricity--enough to power itself and have juice to spare.
The method they've created to power the machine is pretty ingenious. Check it out: