A new toilet that came out of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Rethink the Toilet challenge will turn human excrement into electricity and clean water through a pretty simple process.
Christine Walsh writes the waterless toilet will use a rotation mechanism to pull the excrement into a sanitation chamber that will trap odors. It then passes through a nanotech membrane that can separate the vaporized liquid from solids.
The next step is for the vaporized water to travels through to a chamber filled with so-called nano-coated hydrophilic beads. These allow the vapor to condense and then pass into the collection bowl located under this chamber. This water is already filtered and can be used for washing or irrigation.
The solid waste, on the other hand, is driven by an Archimedean screw into a second chamber. The developers have not yet finalized this step of the process, but plans are in place for this waste to be converted into ash and energy by incineration. The energy obtained in this way will power the water filtration process, while there should also be enough left over for charging small devices, such as phones and tablets.
The only excess product created will be ash, that will actually be so nutrient rich it can be used in farming. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are trying to keep the cost to five cents per toilet and will start testing the product in Ghana, where 2.3 billion people don't have access to safe and sanitary toilets.