Bottom's up
January 6, 2015 10:05 AM   Subscribe

From Poop to Potable - a self-powering incinerator funded by The Gates Foundation that extracts drinking water from human feces.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton (68 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
[obligatory knee jerk Gates bash to flush it out of your system]
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 10:06 AM on January 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


Well, that's going to be a hard sell.
posted by suelac at 10:07 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Potent Potables
posted by hellojed at 10:12 AM on January 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


As seen in the director's cut of Waterworld.
posted by Ratio at 10:12 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm old enough to see POOP to POTABLE and think it might have been a volume label on some version of the Encyclopedia Brittanica.
posted by gimonca at 10:12 AM on January 6, 2015 [20 favorites]


It's a bit nutty.
posted by Kabanos at 10:14 AM on January 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ah, the fountain of tubgirl.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:15 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


[obligatory knee jerk Gates bash to flush it out of your system]

Oh come on now, I think we can overlook Microsoft's deplorable business practices long enough for us all to come together to make a bunch of poop jokes.

Huh huh huh... poop....
posted by JHarris at 10:15 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


It looks a bit nutty.

No it isn't, it looks like a far better solution than dumping truckloads of waste into a lake or something.

Unless that was another poop joke.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 10:15 AM on January 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


thread title is simultaneously best title and worst title of all time, I'm very conflicted.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:16 AM on January 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Bottoms up!!
posted by Mr.Me at 10:16 AM on January 6, 2015


Well not the article to read while eating a bean burrito.
posted by stormpooper at 10:18 AM on January 6, 2015


Wash down your Re-Burger.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:19 AM on January 6, 2015


This tastes like sh__t!
posted by hal9k at 10:19 AM on January 6, 2015


I guess the water's safe after they *puts on sunglasses* boil the crap out of it *yeaaaaaaaaaaah*
posted by Pyry at 10:20 AM on January 6, 2015 [17 favorites]


You laugh now, but your children's children will all clamor for a refreshing glass of poopwater in the future hellscape apocalypse wastes
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:20 AM on January 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


Liquid Assets
posted by hal9k at 10:21 AM on January 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


The devil's always in the details with these sorts of projects, but this sounds great in principle. I'll never understand people's weird squeamishness about "toilet to tap" recycling. Where do they think the water they drink has been over the past billion years? If we were to refuse to drink any water that had passed through a digestive system (even if we limit it to just mammalian or even just human digestive systems) we'd have to forswear drinking any water whatsoever.

All water is "toilet to tap" water. If you can make the process yield some electricity along the way, all the better.
posted by yoink at 10:22 AM on January 6, 2015 [19 favorites]


Jokes aside, that was actually a very well-made instructional video of the entire concept.
posted by Think_Long at 10:24 AM on January 6, 2015


I coulda had a Defek8!
posted by hal9k at 10:24 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Mountain Doo
posted by Ratio at 10:26 AM on January 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Two Bills, One Cup
posted by chavenet at 10:27 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


All water is "toilet to tap" water.

Shit in a bucket. Put a lid on it. Let the moisture condense on the lid and then lick the lid.

I mean it is just like all other water. Just do it.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:28 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Where do they think the water they drink has been over the past billion years?

The statute of squickitations has run out on dinosaur excreta
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:28 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


No.
posted by pxe2000 at 10:29 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd tap that.
posted by 724A at 10:32 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I said Perrier, not derrière!
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:34 AM on January 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


Great - now there's corn in ev-ah-ree-thing.
posted by vitabellosi at 10:39 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Btw, Mr. Gates only takes a small sip. Let's see him bottoms up it!
posted by 724A at 10:43 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think they would do better if they marketed it not as something that would extract drinking water from feces, but would produce water for your vegetable garden, or for your goat to drink, or something.

The technology to produce drinking water from sanitary waste has been around for a while, and even here in the industrialized world where we're quite good at it, we still have to go through the intermediary of putting the outflow of the treatment plant into a lake or river, and then putting the intake to the water system on the other side of the river, such that there's a sort of plausible deniability that you're drinking recycled pee. Even if the net result is water that's less clean (because of un-treated goose shit or whatever) than the water coming out of the sewage treatment plant directly.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:43 AM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Honestly. If I was the richest person in the world, some days I would be so pissed at people, that I would assemble a marketing team whose job it was to make people eat their own shit.

Well played, bill. well played.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:46 AM on January 6, 2015 [10 favorites]


The statute of squickitations has run out on dinosaur excreta

Sure, but my point was not that once, billions of years ago, the water you drank passed through the guts of a dinosaur. My point was that for billions of years the water we drink has been repeatedly passing through an endless myriad of guts. Turn on your tap and you'll be drinking a veritable cocktail of post-bladder/post-colon H2O from your fellow humans, deer, bear, coyotes, squirrels etc. etc. etc. Bears do, indeed, shit in the woods and the water from that shit ends up in municipal resevoirs.

The world is a great big water filtration system. It should come as no great surprise that it's possible to replicate that process technologically.
posted by yoink at 10:49 AM on January 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


Still doesn't make up for Windows 98.
posted by zippy at 10:52 AM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Shit in a bucket. Put a lid on it. Let the moisture condense on the lid and then lick the lid.

I mean it is just like all other water. Just do it.


I'm not sure your proposal--interesting as it sounds--quite meets our scalability criteria.
posted by yoink at 10:52 AM on January 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


Seems like a great idea. I think we really need to be thinking about ways to reclaim phosphorus from human waste, as I'm suspicious that we're going to have food silly problems at some point in the future if/when "peak phosphate" becomes an issue, but renewable energy and clean water are also highly desirable outcomes. Does the waste ash have usable phosphorus in it?

In regard to the ick factor, I think that as long as the process is out of site, people will get over it, at least in places where clean water isn't readily available, but maybe that's too optimistic. I went on a fieldtrip in highschool to a local sewage treatment plant. They told us that though the waste water they produced was potable, or could be made so easily, it wasn't reintroduced back into the drinking water supply primarily because people thought it was gross. However, it was released into a local river, which another municipality drew water out of a couple miles downstream. I don't know how long waste water has to spend in a "natural" setting like a river before the stigma evaporates.
posted by bracems at 10:53 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Too bad that picture of Bill Gates isn't a frontal shot. Because then you'd get a clearer view of what is most obviously a shit-eating grin.
posted by chavenet at 10:57 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Many of the drinking water source rivers in the US, especially in downstream warm places like Texas and Southern California, are often a high percentage (like 80% in August) waste water.

Waste water is your toilet water. It's treated. Then you (or someone downstream) drinks it. Squicky, I know, but that's exactly what processes like these that purify water are for.

Only we usually put IN a ton of energy instead of extracting it. This is pretty cool!
posted by ldthomps at 11:02 AM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Unless that was another poop joke.

It's a bit nutty.
posted by Kabanos at 11:04 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


HPOOO
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:07 AM on January 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


AskMeFi: "This water smells faintly of poo. Is it okay to drink it?"
posted by Wordshore at 11:13 AM on January 6, 2015


From TFA, the next generation of this device will produce, from one person's daily "waste", 0.86 liters of water and 2.5 watts of power. Not that much, but better than leaving it to fester? No comment on the nitrogen content of the ash, and even whether it's suitable for use as fertilizer. I'd guess yes, but not chemist enough to predict the effects of incineration.
posted by achrise at 11:13 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Huh - are they holding Mason jars in the picture? Is this the next $15-a-shot hipster drink, to be sold from a poo truck in the gentrified streets of Portland?
posted by Wordshore at 11:16 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eau de Merde™

We extract our water exclusively from premier cru poops seasonally harvested from local organic grain fed free range populations raised without hormones and antibiotics. All poops are carefully inspected for flaws and other quality issues by our experienced staff in order to ensure a superior product. A true labor of love. Before any water is extracted from the selected poops we mill and polish the turds using traditional Japanese rice mills used for sake production. Only once the coarse outer layers have been removed and the fresh and juicy center has been exposed do we begin the delicate process of separating the Eau de Merde from the solids in the poo using gentle cold pressing techniques borrowed from olive oil production. Each year, at the peak of the season, select first pressings are set aside for limited special edition Eau de Merde Extra Virgin vintage bottlings, each bottle numbered by hand on the label.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:28 AM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


*above "food silly problems" was supposed to be "food supply problems."
posted by bracems at 11:29 AM on January 6, 2015


Pepsi Bloop?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:40 AM on January 6, 2015


Pepsi Bloop?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering


Eponysterial
posted by Wordshore at 11:42 AM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just don't eat beets.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:34 PM on January 6, 2015


Caca-Cola
posted by Ratio at 12:35 PM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


"The Omniprocessor solves that problem. Through the ingenious use of a steam engine, it produces more than enough energy to burn the next batch of waste. In other words, it powers itself, with electricity to spare. 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."

This is rather cool.
But "Omniprocessor" sounds like a Sirius Cybernetics product out of a Douglas Adams book that'll eventually go wild and consume every living thing around it.
Instead they should call it a Poopetuum Mobile.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:44 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dr. Pooper
posted by Ratio at 12:47 PM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Mr. Poobb.
posted by JHarris at 1:06 PM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


That is pretty cool and sh*ts all over composting toilets.

Now, once we've got that setup in places where there isn't existing human waste infrastructure the hat trick will be retrofitting 'developed' cities where we are forced to flush our wees and poos using DRINKING water.
posted by pipstar at 1:10 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think they would do better if they marketed it not as something that would extract drinking water from feces, but would produce water for your vegetable garden, or for your goat to drink, or something.

I agree. The human aversion to feces is a hell of a lot stronger than trust in technology or the assurances of billionaires.
posted by desuetude at 1:27 PM on January 6, 2015


Mr. Poobb.

Bums Up
posted by zippy at 1:54 PM on January 6, 2015


Derrier
posted by Ratio at 2:07 PM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Voss Ass
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:45 PM on January 6, 2015


Yeah, Bill drinks a tiny sip and says, "It's water!" just as the video is fading out.. no shit, Bill!
posted by ReeMonster at 4:39 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pocari Shart
posted by oceanjesse at 4:48 PM on January 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


Crapple
posted by Ratio at 4:54 PM on January 6, 2015


Calpoo
posted by chimpsonfilm at 5:09 PM on January 6, 2015


Evianus
posted by zippy at 5:14 PM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Dr. Brown's Soda
posted by Ratio at 5:18 PM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Arseaparilla
posted by zippy at 5:22 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


San Pooperino
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:23 PM on January 6, 2015


even here in the industrialized world where we're quite good at it, we still have to go through the intermediary of putting the outflow of the treatment plant into a lake or river, and then putting the intake to the water system on the other side of the river, such that there's a sort of plausible deniability that you're drinking recycled pee. Even if the net result is water that's less clean (because of un-treated goose shit or whatever) than the water coming out of the sewage treatment plant directly.

For a given town, the water intake will always be upstream of the sewage treatment plant, partly because most sewage systems rely on gravity, but mostly because of a combination of "yuck!" and being extra safe in case the power goes out and the sewage flows untreated for a while.

But of course there is always a long series of towns doing this all the way down the river, so as mentioned above the people at the bottom of the system are drinking water that has been "recycled" several times over.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:56 PM on January 6, 2015


My toilet flushes end up in the Ohio river and flows downstream from there. So presumably people in Cincinnati, Louisville, Cairo, St. Louis and New Orleans have been drinking my processed effluent for a long time.
posted by octothorpe at 6:31 PM on January 6, 2015


Crystal Shit
posted by Ratio at 8:34 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Poopsi
posted by sexyrobot at 11:08 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


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