- needs no external energy or water
Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates’ Foundation researchers at Cranfield University have developed a ‘super toilet’ that generates its own power, doesn’t need mains water and can even charge your phone.
The toilet that works without being connected to water or sewage systems, and that can generate electricity and clean water as it composts waste. It works with the aid of a membrane that separates solid waste from water molecules.
Improved Sanitation Recovers Resources
Water from the filtration system could be used to wash hands as well as irrigate gardens. Solid waste is gasified and burnt for electricity, leaving ash to fertilize fields. It can improve sanitation for people without access to utilities – at present some 2.5 billion people around the world.
Unique Filtration System
Using the electricity generated to power filtration, this combines sonic waves with a vibrating plate, generating a small amount of surplus electricity. This could, for instance, be used to charge mobile phones.
Small & Self-contained for Residential Use
Doctoral student Jake Larsson, working on the project, says, “It is a household scale toilet that produces clean water and manageable, pathogen-free, disposable waste, it's self-standing, it's small enough to fit in someone's home and there's even a little bit of energy left over to charge a mobile phone."
Coming to a Home Near You Soon?
Jake continues, “It is very diverse. Not only it is for developing countries, but it's also useful for developed countries, maybe for the military, they're always in desolate places, or for the construction industry or even for yachts.” It is certainly something that could be considered as a replacement for composting toilets in conventional homes, especially in ‘off-grid’ situations.
Cranfield University have made several reports, publications and videos available on YouTube, including one of the Business Case for Waterless toilets based on nanotechnologies. These can all be accessed here.
Early Engagement in Design
As the call to “Reduce, Reuse & Recycle” grows in strength, the focus on Low Energy Homes, especially when combined with the incorporation of on-site renewable energy. However, to achieve this, early engagement of the fabric providers / manufacturers and their architectural technologist is highly desirable. Their specialist guidance on the structure and materials to be used, as well as construction sequencing, can save significantly on time, effort and costs.
As demand grows and the house-building industry is increasingly under pressure to deliver greater output, many architects and builders are turning to firms able to interpret and deliver properly ‘sustainable solutions’ to secure high quality, factory produced elements and deliver better value in their projects.