A solar powered toilet that breaks down water and human waste into hydrogen gas for use in fuel cells has won first prize in a competition for next-generation toilets to improve sanitation in the developing world.
The California Institute of Technology in the US received the $100,000 (£64,000) first prize for its design. Loughborough University in the UK took the $60,000 second prize for a toilet that produces biological charcoal, minerals and clean water, and Canada’s University of Toronto came third, winning $40,000 for a toilet that sanitises faeces and urine, and recovers resources and clean water.
The winners took part in a Reinvent the Toilet challenge set by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which asked designers to break with a sanitation model that has changed little since it was developed by Alexander Cummings more than 200 years ago. It is a model that depends on piped water, sewer or electrical connections that poor countries can ill afford.The Raw Story
Solar-powered toilet wins sanitation prize
Mark Tran | The Guardian
Might seem ho-hum to suburban and urban dwellers, but this technology is a big deal not only for the developing world but also for off-grid in developed countries. There are already many composting toilets and waterless urinals in production now, but the zoning laws make their use difficult in many places, requiring installation of an expensive septic system and making many otherwise usable building sites unusable. This is something that can stop you dead in your tracks, and I have seen it happen when the authorities nix an ordinary septic system due to lack of ground perk, which requires a prohibitively expensive solution for many people.
Sewage also wastes an incredible amount of water needlessly, given technological advances, and water is a scarce commodity in many regions, and it is fairly expensive everywhere now to the intensive purification needed.
So I mark this a potentially major trend developing, along with distributed solar installations in general.