Bill Gates wants to bring electricity and water to Africa using… poop?

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Sanitation in some of the world’s least developed nations is a serious issue, one that Bill Gates wants to solve in the least expensive, most productive way possible. His solution comes in the form of OmniProcessor, an affordable waste treatment plant that not only disposes of sewage and keeps cities clean, it transforms that sewage into drinking water and electricity that the city can then use. 

In early January, a video clip featuring Bill Gates started making the rounds on the Internet. But he wasn’t delivering one of his inspiring speeches about vaccines or getting drenched in ice water to raise awareness about ALS. He was just drinking a glass of water. Sounds boring, right? The catch: five minutes before Gates took his first sip, that water had been human waste pumped in from a local sewage facility. That’s right: Bill Gates drank poop water to entertain an audience on the Internet. Well, sort of. Gates was using the apparent publicity stunt to unveil the OmniProcessor—a low-cost waste treatment plant that combines a steam power plant, an incinerator, and a water filtration system into a machine capable of converting 14 tons of sewage into potable water and electricity each day. I’ve tried the water myself; not only is it drinkable, it’s actually indistinguishable from tap water or bottled water.

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