Another Bill Gates prizewinner — solar toilets to improve sanitation

Reinvent the Toilet
Click on the graphic to see it all

Bill Gates is, in a manner of speaking, flushing his money down the toilet…His charitable organisation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is looking for future loos that can improve sanitation around the world.

At the Reinvent the Toilet fair, hosted at its Seattle campus this week, designs included a lavatory that used microwave energy to turn poo 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…Led by Prof Michael Hoffman, the toilet they designed was solar-powered and generated hydrogen gas and electricity. They won a $100,000 prize.

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 (3p) a day and would ideally capture energy or other resources…

Traditional flush toilets waste tons of drinking water and are often impractical in many areas of the developing world.

The UN estimates that disease caused by unsafe sanitation is responsible for half of the hospitalisations in the developing world. About 1.5 million children die each year from diarrhoeal disease…

Bravo! Chalk up another positive step by the Gates Foundation. Imagine how many important tasks like this would move towards reality, functional aid to the poor of the world – as an alternative to the devotion to death and destruction so well-funded in the United States, UK, Russia and in other “modern” nations?

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