'Waste' is actually a resourceTalking about human waste is not the sexiest of topics, but it is incredibly important. Around 2 billion people still use latrines that are not drained sanitarily, or simply do their business out in the open. This isn't just a problem because it's inconvenient and smell bad; it's a mortal danger to many! This waste ends up contaminating water and making millions of people sick. It is estimated that diseases from poor sanitation is responsible for the death of around 700,00 children every year, and many more are permanently affected by these diseases.
But if we wait for the sanitation models used in rich countries to make their ways to the poorest countries, it'll take too long. These models are simply not adapted, especially in places where governments lack the resources to build out the (rather wasteful) infrastructure that many of us take for granted.
What's needed is a new model, one that would actually encourage entrepreneurs to go into the sanitation business, and reward those that do.Enter the Omniprocessor:
This machine can take human waste, which is a feedstock that you can actually get paid to take off someone else's hands, and transforms it into desirable things: Pure, drinking water, excess electricity (the machine powers itself and can send excess power to the grid), and sterilized ash.
This is a project support by Bill Gates, a man who figuratively eats his own cooking, and puts his money where his mouth is: "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."
See for yourself (the video is great -- I love all the annotations!):
This system can be scaled up to handle more waste. Gates wrote: "The next-generation processor, more advanced than the one I saw, will handle waste from 100,000 people, producing up to 86,000 liters of potable water a day and a net 250 kw of electricity."
Would you drink that water? I would. It's not like the water you're drinking now hasn't been in weird places in the past, say, million years...
Raise your glass to a better world!
Via Gates Notes