18 August 2011

Do not take it for granted: it is time to reinvent the toilet!

Lack of sanitation is affecting 2.6 billion people worldwide and it is one of the main contributors to burden of disease and health costs.

A multi-disciplinary team from the Water Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC) at Loughborough University led by Professor M.Sohail has won a grant in an international competition to “re-invent the toilet” organised by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In the project’s first phase, the team will validate certain key principles to design a toilet, which will recover energy and other valuable resources from human excreta without disposing any hazardous waste that could threaten human and environmental health. Faeces will be transformed into a highly energetic combustible through a process combining hydrothermal carbonisation followed by combustion. The process will be powered by heat generated during the combustion phase of faeces processing.

The likely results are converting human waste into useful material for energy generation or soil conditioning, including water for hand-washing and other ablutions. The toilet must be able to work in both single-family and community environments and should cost just pennies a day per person to run.

More information here: http://tinyurl.com/3gnyg9p