New Loo Design Wins With Gates
The competition to design a “next-generation” toilet to benefit 2.5 billion people worldwide who do not have access to safe sanitation has resulted in solar powered solutions that do not require piped water, sewer or electrical connections.
Hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the United States, universities around the world were asked to design sustainable toilet systems that could also transform human waste into useful resources, such as energy and water, at an affordable price.
“Innovative solutions change people’s lives for the better,” foundation Co-chair Bill Gates said.
“If we apply creative thinking to everyday challenges, such as dealing with human waste, we can fix some of the world’s toughest problems.”
California Institute of Technology in the United States received the $100,000 first prize for designing a solar-powered toilet that generates hydrogen and electricity. Loughborough University in the United Kingdom won the $60,000 second place prize for a toilet that produces biological charcoal, minerals, and clean water. University of Toronto in Canada won the third place prize of $40,000 for a toilet that sanitizes faeces and urine and recovers resources and clean water.
The Foundations said that unsafe methods to capture and treat human waste result in serious health problems and death and that food and water tainted with fecal matter result in 1.5 million child deaths every year. Most of these deaths could be prevented with the introduction of proper sanitation, along with safe drinking water and improved hygiene.
“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.
“Many of these innovations will not only revolutionize sanitation in the developing world, but also help transform our dependence on traditional flush toilets in wealthy nations.”
The Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WSH) initiative is part of the foundation’s Global Development Program, which addresses issues such as agricultural development and financial services—problems that affect the world’s poorest people but do not receive adequate attention. WSH has committed more than $370 million to this area, with a focus on developing sustainable sanitation services that work for everyone, including the poor.