MICROSOFT boss Bill Gates has given universities – including Cranfield – $800,000 to reinvent the toilet.
The bottom line for Cranfield University is to develop a waterless, hygienic toilet with the potential to transform the lives of 2.5 billion people worldwide without access to basic sanitation.
A prototype is due for completion next year of the Nano Membrane Toilet - which will be able to treat human waste on-site without external energy or water, allowing it to be safely transported away and potentially reused.
The concept uses a combination of innovative nano and advanced water treatment technologies and the University’s specialist design skills. The concept works by essentially reducing the water content of the sludge through membranes that allow extraction of water as a vapour, using a mechanism powered by the user.
The resulting sludge moves downwards under gravity and is encapsulated in briquette form, with the potential for reuse in combusting or applying to land as a fertiliser.
This reinvented toilet will also have potential in wealthy countries, as clean, safe water becomes more and more a precious resource and the world becomes increasingly eco-conscious.
Cranfield is one of a number of organisations and universities approached by the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene program of the Gates Foundation.
The Reinvent the Toilet Challenge aims to use advances in science and technology to create a new toilet that will transform waste into energy.