UK university developing inexpensive and germ-fighting nano toilet

Instead of using water, a sewage system or external power, this toilet uses nanotechnology to treat human waste, produce clean water and keep smells at bay.
Youtube demonstration
Youtube demonstration

Courtesy of 8 January Reuters and

A toilet that does not need water, a sewage system or external power but instead uses nanotechnology to treat human waste, produce clean water and keep smells at bay is being developed by Cranfield University, UK.

The innovative toilet uses a rotating mechanism to move waste into a holding chamber containing nano elements. The mechanism also blocks odours and keeps waste out of sight.

“Once the waste is in the holding chamber we use membranes that take water out as vapour, which can then be condensed and available for people to use in their homes,” explained Alison Parker, lead researcher on the project.

“The pathogens remain in the waste at the bottom of the holding chamber, so the water is basically pure and clean.”

Cranfield University is developing the toilet as part of the global ‘Reinvent the toilet challenge’ launched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Nanotechnology is the science of creating and working with materials about one nanometre wide, or one-billionth of a metre. A human hair is about 80,000 nanometres wide.

Dr Parker said that despite ‘significant’ interest from developed countries, the toilet is being designed with those in mind who have no access to adequate toilets.

According to the UN children’s agency UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO), 2.4 billion people, mostly in rural areas, live without adequate toilets.

According to WHO, poor sanitation is linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio.

Cranfield University said its toilet is designed for a household of up to 10 people and will cost just $US0.05 per day per user.

A replaceable bag containing solid waste coated with a biodegradable nano-polymer, which blocks odour, will be collected periodically by a local operator, it said.

Initial field testing of the toilet is likely to take place later this year, Dr Parker said.

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