Unlike residents of the developed world where western toilets rely on running water and an extensive sewer network that handles all waste processing, some 2.6 billion people in the world don’t have access to even basic sanitation and this is the reason millions of people die each year from diseases resulting from poor sewage facilities. In an effort to bring proper sanitation in areas that don’t have piped water, sewers and even electricity, researchers from the University of Toronto along with Queensland University have been backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a waste-free toilet.
The team’s first prototype sees the utilization of a sand filter and UV disinfection to process liquid waste and a smolder chamber, similar to a charcoal barbeque, which incinerates solid waste that has been previously flattened and dried in a roller/belt assembly. The team has now received a $2.2 million boost from the Gates Foundation, which will help them better the technology to reduce odor and mechanical complexity. Working with local partners in Bangladesh, the team hopes to have an operational prototype by the last of next year. The prototype will be using readily available materials and equipment that can be maintained locally.