Bill Gates backs challenge to reinvent the toilet
Challenge recognises research efforts to develop safe and sustainable sanitation for the world's poorest
California Institute of Technology has won the top prize in a challenge to come up with a new form of safe and sustainable sanitation for the world’s poorest people, set by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates. The challenge recognises research by universities dedicated to developing innovative ways to manage human waste, which will help improve the health and lives of people around the world.
The following prizes were awarded:
- First prize of $100,000 went to California Institute of Technology for their solar-powered toilet that generates hydrogen and electricity
- Second prize of $60,000 went to Loughborough University for a toilet that produces biological charcoal, minerals, and clean water
- Third prize of $40,000 went to University of Toronto for a toilet that sanitizes faeces and urine and recovers resources and clean water
- Special recognition and $40,000 went to Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology) and EOOS for their outstanding design of a toilet user interface.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation issued a challenge to universities a year ago to design toilets that can capture and process human waste without piped water, sewer or electrical connections, and transform human waste into useful resources, such as energy and water, at an affordable price.
Teams showcased their prototypes and projects at a two-day event held at the foundation’s headquarters in Seattle on August 14 and 15 at the Reinvent the Toilet Fair.
Foundation co-chair Bill Gates said: “If we apply creative thinking to everyday challenges, such as dealing with human waste, we can fix some of the world’s toughest problems.”
The foundation also announced a second round of grants for the challenge to reinvent the toilet amounting to nearly $3.4 million. The grants were awarded to: Cranfield University; Eram Scientific Solutions of India; US based RTI International; and the University of Colorado Boulder.