What's in that glass? What's in that glass? What's in that glass? (Photo: Sebra / Shutterstock)

We may soon be drinking wastewater, and that's a good thing

With help from Bill Gates, 'toilet to tap' trend helps water-scarce areas.

Droughts and water shortages around the world have forced cities to find new and creative ways to bring clean drinking water to their citizens. A town in Florida, for example, has just launched a system that actually pulls water out of the air. While it may sound a little gross to the uninitiated, another common technique being used is turning wastewater into potable water. Yep, you read that right.

The process has actually been going on for years. Astronauts, confined in a tight space and with limited resources, have longed used wastewater for other purposes. Israel, a world leader in the high-tech water revolution, is already using 85% of its wastewater to treat lawns and for irrigation and other agricultural needs. Some of it is even being turned into drinking water.

Developing drinkable water from wastewater can be tricky, and making sure it's disease-free is a top priority. While current systems already promise this, a new layer of protection has just been discovered. A team of researchers from the United States, Germany and Israel has developed specialized ultrafiltration membranes that significantly improve the virus-removal process from treated municipal wastewater. The professors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University Duisburg-Essen in Germany and Israel’s Ben-Gurion University published their work in the latest issue of the science journal "Water Research."

In addition to their research, American philanthropist and tech entrepreneur Bill Gates helped develop a system for turning wastewater into drinking water. It's called the Omniprocessor, and Gates explains how it works in the video below:

Not surprisingly, one of the biggest non-technological obstacles in the "toilet to tap" movement is getting people to have a paradigm shift when it comes to the way they think about wastewater. To help on the marketing side, Gates stopped by "The Tonight Show" and shared a glass of "poop water" with host Jimmy Fallon. Watch what happened:

So, let's raise a glass ... and toast to toilet water!


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Related Topics: Drinks, Environment