[QODLink]
Americas
Bill Gates invests in solar-powered toilet
Toilet that uses little or no water is expected to improve sanitation in the developing world.
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2012 06:44
Professor Michael Hoffman's design toilet is solar powered, generating hydrogen gas and electricity [EPA]

US billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates is investing in a solar-powered toilet for the developing world that will use little or no water.

The need for a new type of toilet is an important part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's push to improve health in the developing world, officials familiar with the project said.

Last year the foundation, named after the Microsoft co-founder and his wife, gave grants to eight universities around the world to help create a hygienic toilet that is safe and affordable and can transform waste into energy.

The project challenged inventors to come up with a toilet that operated without running water, electricity or a septic system.

It needed to operate at a cost of no more than five cents a day and would ideally capture energy or other resources.

Open defecation leads to sanitation problems that cause 1.5 million children under five to die each year.

The eight universities, led by Professor Michael Hoffman, designed a toilet that generated hydrogen gas and electricity. They won a $100,000 prize.

Waste to electricity

At the Reinvent the Toilet fair, hosted in Seattle this week, designs included a lavatory that used microwave energy to turn human waste into electricity.

Another turned excrement into charcoal, while a third used urine for flushing.

In total 28 designs were shown off at the fair and the winner was a team from the California Institute of Technology.

Gates said toilet technology had not fundamentally changed since the invention of the flush toilet in 1775.

"Imagine what's possible if we continue to collaborate, stimulate new investment in this sector, and apply our ingenuity in the years ahead," Gates said at his foundation's Seattle headquarters.

"Many of these innovations will not only revolutionise sanitation in the developing world, but also help transform our dependence on traditional flush toilets in wealthy nations."

Gates' foundation announced $3.4m in new funding on for toilet projects being worked on by various organisations, bringing total investment in its "Reinvent the Toilet Challenge" to about $6.5m.

About 2.6 billion people - or 40 per cent of world's population mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia - lack access to safe sanitation and are forced to defecate in the open, according to Gates.

363

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
Iran's government has shifted its take on 'brain drain' but is the change enough to reverse the flow?
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
join our mailing list