back to article Cheers, Bill Gates. Who wouldn't want drinking water made from POO?

William Henry “Bill” Gates III – Harvard drop-out, Microsoft founder, and second richest man in the world – has revealed that his latest invention will burn your rubbish as well as turning your turds into fresh drinking water. Omni Processor in Senegal Gates, who remains a technology advisor at the Windows factory, wrote …

  1. Valeyard


    I think it's great

    we might balk at drinking that but I doubt people drinking sludge out of a ditch will turn their noses up at clear disease-free water no matter where it came from

    Gates doesn't have to do all this stuff; he's rich enough to kick back and enjoy his considerable lot in life so it's unfair of the people who criticise him for it

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. hplasm

      Re: nice

      "...people drinking sludge out of a ditch..."

      Since the dawn of time, people have been drinking water from natural sources.

      Suddenly they are 'drinking sludge out of a ditch'.

      When did Humans become so stupid? It must have been quite recently.

      And why?

      1. AceRimmer

        Re: nice

        There is a difference between clean springs, streams, rivers, lakes etc which existed at the dawn of time and a dirty wet pit full of animal waste, farm waste, human waste, industrial waste and any other shit you can think of which is a by product of over population and complete inability to manage waste products.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: nice

        Since the dawn of time, people have been drinking water from natural sources.

        True. And suffering child mortality of staggeringly high proportions, such that only half or fewer of their children would survive until adulthood. Perhaps you feel that this is "natural" and isn't a problem?

        However most other people would disagree. Hence we in the developed world, developed. We got sewerage, and healthcare, and pharmaceuticals and food hygene standards and health and safety. And the X Factor - but nothing's perfect...

        Pure mountain spring-water might be totally safe to drink. But anywhere where the temperature is warm (water temp above 20°C), will have contaminate water. Bacteria require light, nutrients and heat to thrive. This is why drinking water tanks are sealed, made of non-translucent materials, insulated and should be tested, cleaned and chlorinated regularly under your legionella control plan.

  2. Roq D. Kasba


    Cleaned turdwater beats unclean anyotherkindofwater hands down.

    We're extremely lucky in countries where we can turn on a tap and trust the supply - future wars won't be over oil, oil's useless without water...

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: Turdwater

      My thoughts exactly - if it's the choice between clean water made from poo, or unclean water where animals and humans have poo'd in, I know which one I'd pick...

      1. hplasm

        Re: Turdwater

        How about- "Don't shit in the well!"

        1. dogged


          > How about- "Don't shit in the well!"

          I realize you're being a dick about this purely because it's Bill Gates and if was anyone else except Steve Ballmer you'd probably love it, but let's assume you;re not just trolling and answer the question.

          What we're looking at is called an upstream village problem. You live in a village by a river. You have close neighbours downstream; they are even probably related to you. Either way, they know you and where you live and you are a very short walk away from them. You probably don't shit in the river because you'd make them ill, which a) would be bad for them and b) because there are always consequences would also be bad for you. Especially if they outnumber you.

          However, the village downstream is three days away by foot and donkey and nobody you know has even been there so everyone shits in the river just past your village because fuck those guys.

          This is called "reality". It has problems which some people are trying to solve. I approve of them solving those problems. You seem to prefer to just shit in the metaphorical well.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Slacker@work

      I like my water to be processed too - generally it needs to be boiled with malted barley and hops, then (when cooled a bit) some yeast added and left for several weeks.

      1. launcap Silver badge

        > boiled with malted barley and hops

        And then made into whisky?

        (Beer gives me bad hangovers. Even after one pint. Whisky isn't so bad. Cider and red wine [not neccesarily at the same time] don't give me a hangover at all..)

        And I like the taste of cider. And red wine. I never really got the taste for beer because of the issue above.

        1. Eddy Ito


          It's the various congeners in drinks which give people problems not the ethanol itself. Distilled spirits typically have fewer congeners and if taken straight produce fewer hangovers. I'm surprised that red wine gives you no problems as it's usually one of the worst offenders since it contains a bit of methanol. It could be something particular to beer that you're sensitive to. My brother has the same problem and can drink margaritas all night but one beer will take him down for the evening; it turns out he has a sensitivity to something in barley which makes him ill and it's present in beer but distillation removes it and whiskey isn't a problem.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @edi ito

            Might be that brother has gluten intolerance, or even worse, coeliac disease. My wife had to give up standard beer as a result of the latter - distilled stuff is ok as the gluten is effectively destroyed during processing. GF beer is available, but check that it is certified. Most is pretty horrible though :(

            And it is all made from recycled dino poo anyway...

    2. Eddy Ito

      You do realize there isn't much difference since the processing that's done post reservoir is partly to remove things like faeces from the various critters living in or near the reservoir. I suppose it's just another sign of how disconnected we have become from the realities of life in modern society.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Given the recent problems in Lancashire, the critter Cryptosporidium is used as a reference pathogen by the World Health for all countries water safety guidelines. Perhaps we need to be a bit more connected without being scaremongers(It was detected and action taken, but maybe not quick enough) and understand even first world countries have the same problems, given that this research could benefit us all.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        You do realize there isn't much difference

        There isn't any difference. I drink water extracted from "poo" too, and so does everyone else on the planet. Unless you're synthesizing your own water from some pristine source of hydrogen and oxygen, every water molecule in your body has very likely passed through some other animal at some point.

        Now, the machine I have for extracting water from poo is a bit more complicated - it's called a DWV-system-plus-sewers-plus-sewage-treatment-plus-water-cycle. But it does the same job.

        (At my soon-to-be vacation home, that round trip will be even shorter, because we'll have a septic system and leach fields and a well. The well head is at least the required 100 ft from the septic tank, and even further from the leach fields, and the predominant water propagation from the fields might be away from the well. But inevitably some water will diffuse out of the fields into the well.)

  4. Efros

    Not too long ago

    inhabitants of any large city would have been only too happy to have this. One of the reasons beer was a drunk by all was that compared to water it had minimal dangers.

    1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

      Re: Not too long ago

      While your point about beer as an alternative to contaminated water is true, I really don't think that was the only reason people drank it

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Not too long ago

        I think it is, when we're talking about small beer.

        1. Vic

          Re: Not too long ago

          I think it is, when we're talking about small beer.

          Not necessarily. You'll have to search that page for "small beer"...


      2. phil dude

        Re: Not too long ago

        @Richard Taylor2: The organism in beer, makes the ethanol (yeast) as a waste product to carbohydrate metabolism - and also as an antimicrobial. This will prevent the growth of most bacteria. Hops have a range of antibiotic mechanisms, and together you get nice beer.

        Wine reaches a higher ABV (~16%), although the yeast may not be that different, due to the richer substrate (fructose is probably much easier to metabolise than generic CxHyOz).

        Alcoholic drinks in moderation are probably better for you, if only because ethanol tolerance is probably not a naturally occurring trait of most pathogens.

        Besides, what else are you going to have with your vindaloo?


        1. hplasm

          Re: Not too long ago

          Beer is water made WITH poo - Yeast Poo!

      3. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Not too long ago

        Go back in history a bit.. say.. to the late 1700's. It was common for British naval ships to load up on provisions (including water for cooking) and then the following was usual: "and all the beer you can carry". Think it was for crew funtimes? It wasn't.

    2. launcap Silver badge

      Re: Not too long ago

      > reasons beer was a drunk by all was that compared to water it had minimal dangers.

      Unless you were from ancient Athens (beer was a foreign drink - proper civilised people drank well-watered wine. Well watered because it was uncivilised to be drunk in the morning and wine because it killed the bugs..)

      What did the ancient Greeks ever do for us anyway?

  5. TeeCee Gold badge

    "diseases caused by poor sanitation kill some 700,000 children every year"

    Aha! Eat shit and die, I've heard of that.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      second verse that no-one remembers

      "drink piss and live" :)

      1. hplasm

        Re: second verse that no-one remembers

        Or- "Drink, piss and live!"

  6. James 100

    Drinking processed excrement

    If he can persuade people to do that, why did he still not manage to get people using Vista?

    Seriously, nice to see this kind of clever recycling being funded and rolled out, and I hope people would overcome the instinctive revulsion at the source of the water - after all, it happens anyway via rain, and surely this is no less thorough a cleaning!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Drinking processed excrement

      I'm wondering if we couldn't feed copies of Windows ME, Vista and 8 to these machines and get some useful electricity and water from them?

  7. Trollslayer Silver badge


    I know El Reg is renowned for it's sense of humour but this is life saving for those ignored by others.

    A bit much.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Trivialised

      Yet they still covered it where others haven't.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah yes, the "think of me first" twat on twatter

    Popehat ‎@Popehat

    .@BillGates Swell. When you're done with that can you release an OS that isn't default-set to sell my kids SSNs to the telemarketers?

    If your kids die of some water borne disease, should bring you back to earth

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great, so if i stick Windows 10 in JOP

    will XP will pop out the other end?

    1. Tom Maddox Silver badge

      Re: Great, so if i stick Windows 10 in JOP


  10. Ben Bonsall

    and a pilot project in motion

    well, yes.

  11. gorand2

    One little problem

    One little problem is that the water from the poo & piss will always be less than the water that the poor people take in. So they'll still need to drink some bad water.

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: One little problem

      From skimming the presentation, the idea is to process the waste and stop it ( more specifically the pathogens in it) from going into the water supply hence there is less bad water and more good(-ish) water to drink or use on crops.

    2. Vector

      Re: One little problem

      "One little problem is that the water from the poo & piss will always be less than the water that the poor people take in"

      Now there's a typical modern reaction. "Oh my gawd! It's not perfect! Bin it now!"

      A partial solution is far better than no solution at all!

      Q: How many guitarists does it take to change a light bulb?

      A: Just one. All the rest just watch him and say "I can do better than that."

    3. Steven Roper

      Re: One little problem

      One little problem is that the water from the poo & piss will always be less than the water that the poor people take in.

      But there's a device to condense water from air that could make up that shortfall. No one solution is a panacea, most problems require multiple solutions to be implemented, and this is a prime example.

  12. VinceH

    "Who wouldn't want drinking water made from POO?"

    I don't know about who wouldn't - but I'm sure Bear Grylls would!

    Obvious icon is obvious.

  13. PNGuinn


    "The committed philanthropist noted that more than two billion humans are using unsuitable latrines in the world today"

    I wasn't aware that the windows 10 rollup had been that successful!

  14. Tom Maddox Silver badge

    Good jorb, guys

    I came in here expecting to see a bunch of anti-Microsoft hate trivializing the importance of this invention, and I'm happy to see that most posters understand why it's such a big deal. Sincere thanks, guys, for helping to restore my faith in humanity, at least a tiny bit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good jorb, guys

      ... and there the faith goes...

      Microsoft still sucks ass... turds and all...


  15. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    Huh huh huh, we said Poo lots of times, heh heh heh...

    How many bladders and bowels do you think all the water in the world has been through in the last four billion years or so?

    What a pathetic article.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Huh huh huh, we said Poo lots of times, heh heh heh...

      "How many bladders and bowels do you think all the water in the world has been through in the last four billion years or so?"

      It hasn't been 4 Billion.

      The universe was only created about 6K to 10K years ago.

      Stupid evolutionists.

  16. TimeMaster T


    Could we STOP making such a fuss over this technology?

    OK, I can understand the childish desire to talk about "poo" and "drinking pee" But come on people! Only 2% of the world's water is "fresh", and a major portion of that still needs to be treated in some way, be it filtration, chlorination or just plain boiling, to make it safe to drink. And it is a simple fact that the discharge from any modern waste water treatment facility that is holding to any kind of decent standards is way cleaner than what is going INTO the municipal reservoirs in the first place. Adding a few extra filtration/treatment steps and closing the loop make a great deal of sense both financially and environmentally.

    Considering that the West Coast of the USA is facing a "Mega Drought" that is projected to last decades, and much of the rest of the world is also dealing with shortages , falling water levels in the aquifers and sea water infiltration into many coastal aquifers rendering the water unusable for even agriculture we need to start looking into every possible method of supplying drinkable water to everyone.

    I know what its like to not have any water to drink. After a couple days without any water you wouldn't care where that glass of clean water in front of your came from, you would think it was the best thing you had ever tasted..

    By hyping the "gross factor" you prime people to be resistant to this kind of tech. Which doesn't help anyone.

    1. -tim
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Please!!!!

      The tech can't filter out pirons and the only one we have found so far that kills humans is the type that causes mad cow (and mad human) disease. It is expected in many other untreatable medical conditions as well.

      Oddly enough the best way to kill human effecting pirons is to put them in ocean water.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. MAF

    Get used to this idea

    We've been spoiled by our traditional water-closet toilets. They actually require an enormous supporting infrastructure to deliver that flush and then to process the poo and then redistribute to fields. It takes a large amount of costly maintenance to avoid losing valuable water through leaks from all that pipework.

    They also need a lot of energy to pump all that water around the network. Admittedly, some is put back by burning methane in generators at sewage farms whose output goes into the National Grid.

    World population is growing and so are water demands - for domestic, industrial & agricultural needs and it's a finite resource that we need to use better.

    BG is talking about the outcome of the "Reinvent the toilet" challenge which aimed to produce sustainable and scalable alternatives with less demand for supplied water. This can apply to the "developed countries" just as much as the "third world".

  18. SBU


    "all the water we drink now has been pissed in, shit in and wanked in time and time again"

    and it _remembers_.

    I put alcohol in my water to help it forget.

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