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Bill Gates and the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge

Bill Gates through his Gates foundation sponsored a challenge to reinvent the toilet.

Poor sanitation (contact with feces) is the number one killer of children in the world. Four out of ten people in the world have no toilet and that means approximately 2.5 billion people. The toilet as we know it has serious limitations.

The Gates toilet focus started just about a year ago, and including grants announced Tuesday, $370 million in foundation dollars have been committed to reinventing the toilet.

To pass the foundation’s threshold for the world’s next toilet, it must operate without running water, electricity or a septic system, not discharge pollutants, preferably capture energy or other resources, and operate at a cost of 5 cents a day.

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Paper Made from Sewage

A new Israeli invention is making it possible to produce “scentless paper” – from drain water.

Dr. Refael Aharon of Applied CleanTech has developed a system capable of turning stinking sewage into a renewable and profitable source of energy.

About 99.9% of the drainage which comes out of our homes and flows through pipes is water. The remaining 10% are comprised of solid substances which can be used for the production of cellulose, which is used to produce paper.

Turning toilet paper into writing paper These substances include food leftovers, used toilet paper and fiber from clothes which flow into the sewage with the laundry water.

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Sewage Powered Car

The UK’s first people-powered VW Beetle has taken to the streets of Bristol in what has been hailed as a breakthrough in the drive to encourage sustainable power.

The Bio-Bug runs on methane gas generated during the sewage treatment process.

Waste flushed down the toilets of just 70 homes in Bristol is enough to power the Bio-Bug for a year, based on an annual mileage of 10,000 miles.

With support from the South West Regional Development Agency, GENeco, a Wessex Water-owned company, imported specialist equipment to treat gas generated at Bristol sewage treatment works in Avonmouth to power the VW Beetle in a way that doesn’t affect its performance.

Mohammed Saddiq, GENeco’s general manager, said he was confident that methane from sewage sludge could be used as an alternative energy source and was an innovative way of powering company vehicles. More >

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Tulane Students bring Sanitation & Electricity

Americans and other developed nations around the world have taken sanitation and electricity for granted for more than 100 years. Yet, many underdeveloped countries, such as India, still do not have either and live under kerosene power and are forced to defecate outdoors.

Now, a new campaign, called the Humanure Power Project, is looking to change all that. The HPP, an innovative social venture founded and run by six Tulane University students, aims to alleviate both issues by connecting existing and proven technologies. The students are hoping HPP will transform the way rural villagers in India dispose of human waste and power their homes.

The Tulane students were a finalist in Dell’s 2012 Social Innovation Challenge, winning $30,000 for their concept, helping them turn the project into a reality. The team has now been working in India building blocks of public toilets in the village of Sukhpur, located in the Supaul district in the Indian state of Bihar.


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Dog and Human Waste into Ash

A device designed to scoop and turn dog poop into ash in one minute is getting serious consideration from the Gates Foundation.

The company, Paulee Cleantech, has created a device that scoops up dog poop and then in the chamber adds chemicals transforming the poop.

The toilet, invented by Hebrew University biotech innovator Prof. Oded Shoseyov, decomposes feces and urine using chemicals, which are released upon the pressing of a button powered by a battery or solar cell.

The waste is then chemically broken down and turned into compost, which can be used for farming or other purposes, Hibel said.

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Microbial Fuel Cells

A by-product of biofuel manufacture can power microbial fuel cells to generate electricity cheaply and efficiently, according to scientists presenting their work at the Society for General Microbiology's Autumn Conference. The work could help develop self-powered devices that would depollute waste water and be used to survey weather in extreme environments.

Distillers Dried Grain with Solubles (DDGS) is a waste product from bioethanol production that is commonly used as a low-cost animal feed. Researchers from the University of Surrey incorporated DDGS together with bacteria-inoculated sludge from a waste water treatment plant in their microbial fuel cell.

The design of the fuel cell meant that the bacteria, which used the DDGS for growth, were physically separated from their oxygen supply. This meant that the bacteria were forced into sending electrons around a circuit leading to a supply of oxygen. By tapping into this electron flow, electricity could be generated from the waste.

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