A revolutionary University of Colorado Boulder toilet fueled by the sun that is being developed to help some of the 2.5 billion people around the world lacking safe and sustainable sanitation will be unveiled in India this month.
The self-contained, waterless toilet, designed and built using a $777,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has the capability of heating human waste to a high enough temperature to sterilize human waste and create biochar, a highly porous charcoal, said project principal investigator Karl Linden, professor of environmental engineering. The biochar has a one-two punch in that it can be used to both increase crop yields and sequester carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.
The project is part of the Gates Foundation’s “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge,” an effort to develop a next-generation toilet that can be used to disinfect liquid and solid waste while generating useful end products, both in developing and developed nations, said Linden. Since the 2012 grant, Linden and his CU-Boulder team have received an additional $1 million from the Gates Foundation for the project, which includes a team of more than a dozen faculty, research professionals and students, many working full time on the effort.
According to the Gates Foundation, the awards recognize researchers who are developing ways to manage human waste that will help improve the health and lives of people around the world. Unsafe methods to capture and treat human waste result in serious health problems and death – food and water tainted with pathogens from fecal matter results in the deaths of roughly 700,000 children each year.
Linden’s team is one of 16 around the world funded by the Gates “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” since 2011. All have shipped their inventions to Delhi, where they will be on display March 22 for scientists, engineers and dignitaries. Other institutional winners of the grants range from Caltech to Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and the National University of Singapore.
The CU-Boulder invention consists of eight parabolic mirrors that focus concentrated sunlight to a spot no larger than a postage stamp on a quartz-glass rod connected to eight bundles of fiber-optic cables, each consisting of thousands of intertwined, fused fibers, said Linden. The energy generated by the sun and transferred to the fiber-optic cable system — similar in some ways to a data transmission line — can heat up the reaction chamber to over 600 degrees Fahrenheit to treat the waste material, disinfect pathogens in both feces and urine, and produce char.
“Biochar is a valuable material,” said Linden. “It has good water holding capacity and it can be used in agricultural areas to hold in nutrients and bring more stability to the soils.” A soil mixture containing 10 percent biochar can hold up to 50 percent more water and increase the availability of plant nutrients, he said. Additionally, the biochar can be burned as charcoal and provides energy comparable to that of commercial charcoal.
Linden is working closely with project co-investigators Professor R. Scott Summers of environmental engineering and Professor Alan Weimer chemical and biological engineering and a team of postdoctoral fellows, professionals, graduate students, undergraduates and a high school student.
“We are doing something that has never been done before,” said Linden. “While the idea of concentrating solar energy is not new, transmitting it flexibly to a customizable location via fiber-optic cables is the really unique aspect of this project.” The interdisciplinary project requires chemical engineers for heat transfer and solar energy work, environmental engineers for waste treatment and stabilization, mechanical engineers to build actuators and moving parts and electrical engineers to design control systems, Linden said.
Tests have shown that each of the eight fiber-optic cables can produce between 80 and 90 watts of energy, meaning the whole system can deliver up to 700 watts of energy into the reaction chamber, said Linden. In late December, tests at CU-Boulder showed the solar energy directed into the reaction chamber could easily boil water and effectively carbonize solid waste.
While the current toilet has been created to serve four to six people a day, a larger facility that could serve several households simultaneously is under design with the target of meeting a cost level of five cents a day per user set by the Gates Foundation. “We are continuously looking for ways to improve efficiency and lower costs,” he said.
The Latest on: Solar-powered toilet
via Google News
The Latest on: Solar-powered toilet
- No disability friendly water closet toilet at Adaklu SHS - Headmasteron March 24, 2020 at 12:59 pm
“We still use the old 10-squatter toilet,” said Togbe Amafu, Regent of Waya. Similarly, Adaklu-Dawanu has not been provided with a community-based mechanised solar-powered water system. What the ...
- Ammi Midstokke: Art therapy for the poor prepperon March 22, 2020 at 6:16 am
Contrary to popular belief, my solar-powered home, and the size of my pantry, I am not a prepper. The one time I tried to can my own food, I put butter in the applesauce and nearly killed everyone ...
- On Pictou Island, self-isolation has long been the normon March 20, 2020 at 3:16 pm
Each fall, he and his wife stockpile enough canned food, dry goods and toilet paper to last them through the winter ... Until the early 1960s, the island didn’t have electricity and oil lamps were ...
- There Are Two Types of People Now: Online Shoppers and the People Who Serve Themon March 19, 2020 at 7:36 am
This article originally appeared on VICE US. A society that already had deep divisions due to economic inequality has now had that division thrown into stark relief by the coronavirus pandemic.
- People Have Patented Some Seriously Strange Ideas For Carson March 18, 2020 at 3:10 pm
The toilet that stores your urine when you can't pull over might be similarly functional, but fewer people might be keen to carry it. Our favorite, however, is the individual who, we're guessing, ...
- Coldplay’s Chris Martin takes song requests from quarantined fans on Instagramon March 18, 2020 at 7:22 am
staying at home and not buying too much toilet paper.” Coldplay was one of the first bands to announce it would cancel a global tour in 2020, due to environmental concerns. The band stated in a BBC ...
- Perfect isolation: 10 amazing holidays in remote corners of Britainon March 16, 2020 at 4:54 am
That’s fully in keeping with your abode: this Hobbity wooden bothy overlooking Loch Scresort, with a four-person sleeping platform and indoor barbecue, is delightfully low-fi, sharing basic shower and ...
- Ronda Rousey Getting Crushed For Coronavirus Instagram Poston March 13, 2020 at 1:21 pm
At a time where there’s literal violence in stores over rolls of toilet paper, it probably isn’t the wisest idea for celebrities ... She reminded everyone that she’s been a prepper for years and now ...
- Solar-powered home embraces tree canopy views in all directionson March 4, 2020 at 7:30 am
Related: Samurai-inspired home keeps naturally cool in Melbourne To keep the focus on the outdoors, the solar-powered home is ... rainwater for garden use and toilet-flushing, while other ...
- These Solar-Thermal Toilets are Carbon-Sequestering Charcoal Factorieson December 17, 2019 at 4:36 am
But thanks to this revolutionary solar-powered toilet, even the most remote throws of civilisation will be granted both a safe place to poop and a means of turning their business into brown gold.
via Bing News