The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aim to reinvent the toilet

By on August 15, 2012, 12:30 PM

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently held a competition that asked some of today’s brightest inventors to help solve a problem plaguing more than 2.6 billion people worldwide. The task was to reinvent the toilet without using running water, electricity or a septic tank and it must not expel any pollutants, preferably capture energy and operate at a cost of only 5 cents per day.

The “Reinventing the Toilet” fair was held at the foundation’s Seattle headquarters where scientists and experts from around the world displayed their inventions. The whole idea to reinvent the toilet started just over a year ago and there’s already $370 million in grants and foundation dollars that have been put aside for the project.

Several of the designs on hand were extremely high-tech with one using microwaves to transform human waste into electricity. Another unit is able to turn waste into charcoal while a third device captures urine and is able to use it for flushing. Many of the projects are able to recycle waste into other usable resources such as water for irrigation, animal feed or to power other systems.

But not every device looks like a machine from the future. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine showcased a system that uses soldier fly larvae to process waste. This method produces animal friendly feed and only cost one penny a day to operate.

Prototypes from the fair are expected to enter field testing within the next three years. “If we do it right, there’s every possibility that some of these designs would also be solutions for rich and middle-income countries,” Gates noted.

User Comments: 13

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Guest said:

Ya it is called Windows 8...

Guest said:

Quick, patent the shovel!!!! We'll make billions! :D

Guest said:

Years ago in Canada they had a self-composting toilet that didn't use water. Recently I purchased a Kohler toilet that only use 1.28 gal per flush, which is not too bad.

Guest said:

Just buy a can of Vapoorise *nerd*

Guest said:

This is why the cats are smarter then us. They have a sand box toilet. They get us or girlfriend to scoop out the crap and it does not use water no flushing required no electricity just a paw an a meou for the owner in appreciation that you took care of our crap.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

Water? mean like... from out of the toilet?

Guest said:

so many ignorant comments, seriously...

PinothyJ said:


9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Oh I know! Make a portal gun that fires my turds into space headed for the sun! No water. No problem. And I can feel better knowing that my poop is powering our plants loving sun.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

so many ignorant comments, seriously...

lol, and yours.

but relax, we're all joking. It's a funny subject, who reads the comments anyways?

oh wait, you did... :P

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I know what we need, a replicator!!! LOL

Guest said:

What a load of old toilet.

Guest said:

ya that would certainly work in a slum of congested, multi-story buildings (sarcasm)

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