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19 August 2012

Reinvent the Toilet

We've written before about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's efforts to improve the world through relatively simple things.

"The Water, Sanitation & Hygiene program initiated the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge to leverage advances in science and technology and create a new toilet that will transform waste into energy, clean water, and nutrients...  (The Programme) challenged 22 universities to submit proposals for how to invent a waterless, hygienic toilet that is safe and affordable for people in the developing world and doesn’t have to be connected to a sewer.” (link)

Uploaded by  on Jul 18, 2011
Four out of 10 people worldwide don't have a safe way to poop. We need a toilet revolution--new ideas to help reduce disease and find new ways to turn crap into valuable stuff, like fuel, fertilizer, and fresh water. Learn more:http://gates.ly/OZ0cZ2

Last year The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $4,000,000 in grants to eight universities to create  safe, efficient, near-waterless toilets. This week in Seattle, at the Reinvent the Toilet fair working versions of the winning designs were on show.

"The winners included: first place to California Institute of Technology in the United States for designing a solar-powered toilet that generates hydrogen and electricity, second place to Loughborough University in the United Kingdom for a toilet that produces biological charcoal, minerals, and clean water, and third place to University of Toronto in Canada for a toilet that sanitizes feces and urine and recovers resources and clean water. A special recognition was awarded to Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology) and EOOS for their outstanding design of a toilet user-interface." (Read the full post and see photos here.)

Listen to National Public Radio's story about the Sanitation Fair.

In case you're wondering how our "modern" toilets came to be, I recommend this BBC series to you.


Watch this video from BBC News about the 100th anniversary of  the death of Thomas Crapper and his Victorian toilet inventions.  You might also want to investigate the links on this page from Sewerhistory.com.