Bill Gates' Latest Buy: Fake Poop

Inventors of self-powered toilets vie for funding

By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 12, 2012 2:05 PM CDT

(Newser) – Bill Gates has so much money that he's apparently now dropping it on fake poop. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has ordered up some 50 pounds of the stuff, made of soybean paste, that will be used to test out high-tech toilets designed to function without electricity or plumbing. More than 2.6 billion people across the globe lack access to clean toilets, a problem that kills 1.5 million children each year due to poor sanitation. The Gates Foundation is hunting for a solution in the form of a new, self-powered commode, reports NPR.

Last year, the foundation gave $3 million in grants to eight engineers to build a new type of toilet. And next week, the prototypes will be inspected and evaluated using the imitation poop, and finalists will receive more funding. One of the contending commodes is solar-powered. Another converts waste into electricity using microwave technology, and one dries and burns feces, transforming it into fertilizer. "It's like a toilet that you'd find in the spaceship," said a chemical engineer. "The fecal matter itself powers the toilet."

Bill Gates in June, 2012.
Bill Gates in June, 2012.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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