Bill Gates Drinks Sewer Water: How One Machine Could Change the World

test treated water at treatment plant

It may not be your first choice for quenching your thirst, but in developing countries, a special machine that turns sewage into drinkable water and electricity could change the lives of billions. Around the world, there are over 2.5 billion people who don’t have access to sanitary and safe drinking water. Recently, engineers at a company called Janicki Bioenergy have been testing the viability of their Janicki Omni processor invention, which takes sewer sludge—yes, sludge—and converts it into electric power, ash, and potable water.

Essentially, it works by taking sewage and putting it through an intense heating process that produces water vapor, which condenses into water safe for human consumption. Not a believer? Billionaire Bill Gates takes a sip on camera to show how safe it is and talks about how the Janicki Omni processor could improve the quality of life in communities around the world. See for yourself.

Even here in the United States, people are catching on to the idea of recycling what’s called “grey water”—any used household water other than what flows through your toilets and sinks. Laundry water, bath water, and shower water are the most common examples. Even if this water isn’t safe to drink, it can still be recycled for uses like gardening. To learn more about Twin Cities water quality and what’s currently flowing through your home, check out our infographic.

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