Janicki Bioenergy, a company based out of Sedro-Woolley, Washington, has invented a machine which turns human waste into water and electricity. The machine, featured on Bill Gates’ blog Gates Notes, is part of the Gates Foundation’s effort to improve sanitation in poor countries.
The idea of drinking water that came from human waste is terribly unappealing, but according to Gates it is just “as good as any [he’s] had out of a bottle”.
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.
The OmniProcessor takes sewer sludge and puts it through a boiling process which separates it into dry sludge and water vapor. The dry sludge is then heated even further where it creates steam. The steam is then sent to a steam generator which powers the processor, and the excess can be fed into the local electricity grid. Water vapor from the initial boiling process is run through a water purification system to provide clean drinking water.
The entire process takes just five minutes, and one can easily see how the OmniProcessor can greatly benefit developing countries with little or no access to clean drinking water. The idea isn’t that far fetched as astronauts on the International Space Station have been drinking recycled urine since 2009.
Check out the video below to see how the machine works.