Most developments are an outcome of hurdles faced in particular or in general. One best example is the numerous researches being conducted to solve the sanitation issue with access to water. Over 2.5 billion people do not have access to clean toilet facilities or wash stations. Sanitation with access to water affects every facet of life, from healthcare and disease control to education and access to livelihoods. In response to the issues, Cranfield University (Bedfordshire, UK) is developing an innovative waterless, nano-tech toilet, the widespread use of which can improve the lives of millions in vulnerable communities around the globe.
The exceptional design and use of nanotechnology enables the toilet to do more than simply dispose of human waste in a contained, sanitized manner. The toilet is designed in such a way that it can extract water from the waste which is re-used and generate energy from the solid waste.
Waste to Water
In the technology, both ‘loosely bound water’ (urine) and solid waste is processed in the nano-toilet. With the help of nanotech membrane, the loosely bound water is vaporized and separated from odorous compounds and contained within the system. The vapor is transferred to nano-coated condensing beads and is collected as droplets on the other side of the membrane which are then pushed to basin once the quantity of water is large enough. This water is safe for farming and household cleaning.
Solid waste will undergo the same process as above to extract water and the remaining waste (about 20 – 25%) is turned into ash and heat. While the R&D for this part of the toilet is still in process, researchers are confident that the system should be able to produce enough energy to power the whole unit, with residual energy remaining to power small gadgets like cell phones. The remaining ash can is re-purposed as fertilizer. The system is powered via a modular hand crank or bicycle-powered generator.
The system took over 3 years to refine and trial use will begin in Ghana in 2016. The innovation has been featured by numerous media outlets and was the winner of the “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.