Redesign the toilet, claims Bill Gates

Submitted by AdelleT on Thu, 07/21/2011 - 23:01.

Bill Gates acknowledges the frequency of toilet problems. According to CNN, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are challenging the best and brightest brains to "reinvent the toilet". The issues of cleanliness for millions of individuals in impoverished regions of the planet make the toilet's reinvention important. Source of article - Bill Gates challenges bright minds to reinvent the toilet by

No toilet innovation since the 1700s

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's global development program, said via a press release that its high time toilet technology moved forward.

"No innovation in the past 200 years has done more to save lives and improve health than the sanitation revolution triggered by invention of the toilet," she said. "But it did not go far enough. It only reached one-third of the world. What we need are new approaches, new ideas. In short, we need to reinvent the toilet."

The foundation's efforts to change the toilet will include $41.5 million in grants for budding toilet engineers who are flush with ideas about how to modernize an invention that has largely remained the same since 1775. Back then, it saved millions of lives. Now, there are still millions killed by ineffective toilets.

Cleaning away the grime of a growing world

Running water and sewer is necessary for a toilet cleanliness system to work correctly. Disease spreads quite a bit in impoverished areas of the planet as 2.5 billion individuals have to use rudimentary toilets. This is what these aren't accessible in most of the world, as reported by the world Health Organizations.

Frank Rijsberman, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's director of water sanitation and hygiene, knows there's a better way.

"We want to look at waste as a resource and recycle it," Rijsberman said. "We think we can recycle the energy, the minerals and also the water. We want to reinvent the toilet that is cheap, that doesn't cost more than a few pennies, which poor people want to use and that will recycle minerals, energy and water."

Better ideas

The Gates Foundation has some good ideas. They involved:

  • A toilet that recovers water and salt from feces and urine.
  • A toilet that generates electricity from waste. Microwaves create a plasma gas from waste that creates the electrical power.
  • A toilet that sanitizes feces within 24 hours to prevent the spread of infection. This is achieved through dehydration, filtration and smoldering the waste into harmless form.
  • A solar-powered toilet that turns waste into electrical energy.

These and more ideas will be applied in third-world countries also as in the U.S. and Europe in places where water shortages are most common, said Rijsberman.

Take a look at these toilets

Information from

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:,


Seattle Times:,

World Health Organization:

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