Would you drink your own poo?
I’m not talking about a once off Bear Grylls bush survival sort of scenario.
I’m talking about your only chance for access to clean water. Ever.
Bill Gates did. Well, he didn’t drink his poo, but a whole bunch of strangers’…
Before I explain what happened, and why Bill Gates was smiling over a glass of waste water, there are a couple of things you should know.
We in Australia can’t comprehend not having access to clean water.
I’ll bet all the readers of this newsletter, if you grew up in Australia, can only remember water coming out of a tap. Safe, drinkable water.
It’s only when you visit another country where water isn’t safe to drink that you get a glimpse of the problem.
I say glimpse because you can still bathe in the water coming from the tap, even if it’s not suitable for drinking. It’s simply inconvenient to go to the shops to buy drinking water. You still have access to clean water.
Here I sit on my cushy office chair, drinking filtered water supplied by the company, complaining about the air conditioning.
Yet water.org tells me that around the world, every minute, a child dies from a water related disease. The same site claims that 3.4 million people die each year from water related deaths. Over 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries.
Look at it this way. If you take a five minute shower, you use more water than a person in a developing slum uses for an entire day.
Can you see how we take our perfectly clean water sanitation for granted?
This is why Bill Gates drinking human waste is important.
Developing countries aren’t just going to build a fancy modern plumbing system overnight.
That takes billions of dollars, resources and skilled labour. Quite frankly, it’s also time the people of these areas don’t have. The more time it takes to implement clean water, the more people that will die.
And developing countries don’t have the infrastructure to support modern plumbing.
This means alternative ways of supplying clean water must be found.
And this is where I get to Bill Gates and the poo. Here’s the YouTube clip if you don’t believe me.
Don’t worry — you don’t see any of the ‘input’ going on.
There’s nothing stomach churning to watch.
Rather an animation of how the machine turns poo into drinking water.
At the end of the clip, I reckon you can see a tiny bit of hesitation on Gates’ face, quickly followed by relief. But maybe that’s just me.
The machine, called the Omniprocessor, is built by US company Janicki Bioenergy. It’s been funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.
The Omniprocessor is a massive 23 metres by 8 metres and can process 14 tonnes of waste every day. If you were wondering, 14 tonnes is roughly the amount produced by 100,000 people.
The human waste travels up a conveyor belt and into a large tube called the dryer. Here, the waste is boiled. During this process the water vapours produced are sucked out of the solid waste.
Now, the solids are dry and head over to the fire. The fire runs at an extremely high pressure producing steam, which then turns the steam engine. And through this, it produces electricity.
The Omniprocessor produces enough electricity to run itself, plus a little extra to feed back into the grid. IFLscience.com claims roughly 250 kilowatts of excess power is produced.
While this happens, the water vapours run through a cleaning system until it becomes drinking water. The entire process takes less than five minutes.
Based on the daily tonnes it can take, the machine could provide 86,000 litres of water each day, enough water for 43,000 people.
The real test of the machine will come when it travels to Dakar, Senegal, in a couple of months.
The machine doesn’t come cheap — about US$1.5 million before shipping.
Because of the cost, and the limited number of people it can supply clean water to, this machine is no quick fix for the 750 million without any access to safe water.
However, it’s a start.
Currently, Bill Gates is using his foundation to get the machine into remote locations. He’s actually looking for entrepreneurs to back this idea by investing in the Omnipressor themselves.
While Gates is out looking for investors, Tim Dohrmann at Australian Small-Cap Investigator found an ASX listed security one step ahead.
Tim’s small cap stock has spent several years investing in good ideas that support and grow developing communities around the world. Oh, and it’s only up a lazy 74% since he recommended it.
Perhaps Gates is a little behind the eight ball these days.
Editor, Money Weekend