London: British scientists claim they are developing a unique device which can turn used toilet waste into drinking water.
A team at Manchester University, led by Sarah Haigh, says the innovation -- which has been funded by billionaire Bill Gates -- could transform the lives of millions of people in the third world.
In fact, the scientists plan to have a prototype ready to demonstrate by 2013, the `Daily Mail` reported.
Haigh, an expert in nanotechnology, believes a new range of materials could extract energy from human waste. Although the result may not be bottled mineral water, she says the results could be the difference between life-and-death in regions without clean water.
She said: "There is a lot of energy already present in human waste. Nano-scale materials mean that you can harvest the hydrogen and turn it into hydrozene -- which is basically rocket fuel."
The scientists believe that a scaffold device holding a mixture of bacteria and tiny metal nano-particles will react with the water to extract useful hydrogen, with the remainder filtered again to produce clean water.
Dr Haigh said: "The phrase `off to spend a penny` is used in polite society to refer to a visit to the lavatory. We plan to turn this essential everyday outgoing into an investment by developing novel materials that convert natural waste into a useable resource.
"This technology will be particularly important for remote locations in developing countries and will have the added benefits of reduced pollution and lower waste disposal costs."