Water From Human Waste? Bill Gates Says, 'Bottoms Up!'

One machine takes human feces and turns it into clean drinking water and electricity.
Jan 7, 2015·
Samantha Cowan is an associate editor for culture.

The thought of taking a large gulp of water made from human waste hardly sounds thirst-quenching, but philanthropist Bill Gates confirms water made from sewage sludge “tastes as good as any [he’s] had out of a bottle.”

While Gates and a crew of engineers promises the liquids are perfectly safe, maybe you’d still prefer to sip your next beverage from a chilled plastic bottle. However, that’s simply not an option for as much as half of the world's population, which lacks access to clean water and sanitation. Contaminated water also leads to diseases that kill approximately 700,000 children every year, Gates wrote on his blog Monday.

Without expensive infrastructure in place, many use open latrines or simply defecate in public spaces, making it easy to contaminate drinking water.

That’s where the OmniProcessor comes in. Developed by Janicki Bioenergy, this high-tech machine carries human waste up a conveyor belt and separates solids from liquids. The solids go to a high-pressure steam engine, creating electricity that is funneled back to power the machine. Last, the liquid goes through an intense filtration process until it becomes crystal-clear drinking water.

Still wary of drinking water made from waste? Just check out Gates in the video above taking a chug. If it’s good enough for Gates to drink, it’s probably good enough for you.