A multi-disciplinary team from the Water Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC) at Loughborough University led by Professor M.Sohail has won a £250,000 (US$ 408,000) grant in an international competition to “re-invent the toilet” organised by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
In the project’s first phase, the team will validate certain key principles to design a toilet, which will recover energy and other valuable resources from human excreta without disposing any hazardous waste that could threaten human and environmental health.
Faeces will be transformed into a highly energetic combustible through a process combining hydrothermal carbonisation followed by combustion. The process will be powered by heat generated during the combustion phase of faeces processing.
The likely results are converting human waste into useful material for energy generation or soil conditioning, including water for hand-washing and other ablutions.
The toilet must be able to work in both single-family and community environments and should cost just pennies a day per person to run.
The WEDC team will present the results of their work to teh Gates Foundation at meeting in August 2012.
Source: Loughborough University, 20 Jul 2011