World’s First Waterless, Solar-Powered Toilet to be Launched with Gates Foundation Grant

Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Entrepreneurship


141732621_97fa1334feA waterless toilet fuelled by solar power and developed with a grant of $777,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is set to be launched in India during World Water Week. This revolutionary waterless toilet is developed by the University of Colorado Boulder and holds the promise to bring a change in the lives of 2.5 billion people around the world who are deprived of safe and sustainable sanitation.


The toilet employs innovative technology that creates biochar, a highly porous charcoal, by heating human waste to high enough temperatures that sterilize it. Karl Linden, Professor of Environmental Engineering, said that biochar can be used to both improve crop yields and sequester carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Biochar is a unique material with good water holding capacity, which can be used in agricultural land to sustain nutrients and improve soil stability.


When a soil is mixed with just 10 percent biochar, its water holding capacity increases by up to 50 percent and the availability of plant nutrients improves. Furthermore, the biochar can be used as charcoal to provide energy comparable to that of commercial charcoal.


The magnitude of the problem of lack of toilets in the developing world can be gauged from the fact that three out of five rural households in India have no toilet facilities. This was revealed in a recent government National Sample Survey Office survey in India. This situation poses a serious threat to public health as well as to the environment. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been focusing on finding an affordable solution to this problem of the developing world for the past few years.


The new revolutionary invention by the University of Colorado Boulder comprises eight parabolic mirrors that focus sunlight to a spot no larger than a postage stamp on a glass rod connected to fiber-optic cables. Linden said that tests have shown that the system can deliver up to 700 watts of energy into the reaction chamber.


Linden’s team is one of the 16 worldwide that have received funding from the Gates Foundation’s “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” since 2011. The goal of this endeavor is to develop a next-generation toilet that can be used to disinfect liquid and solid waste while generating useful end products.


Source: Energy Live News


Image Credit: Flickr via angrylambie1

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