ideas@innovations
About Dominic | About Vivek | About Emi | E-mail Us E-mail |  On Twitter Follow |  On Facebook Fan |  RSS RSS Feed
Posted at 06:05 PM ET, 08/15/2012

Gates Foundation makes poop a priority, puts toilet innovation front and center


Bill Gates, right, looks at a device that uses solar energy to treat human waste, as he tours the "Reinventing the Toliet" Fair, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012, in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren - AP)

Bill Gates wants your ideas — ideas to improve the one thing most people probably don’t like to think about until they have to: the toilet.

That’s right, there’s a global problem when it comes to the bathroom throne: not everyone has access to one. More specifically, they lack access to clean sanitation services.

In July 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced an initiative to reinvent the toilet, along with $265 million in grants spread across a variety of efforts to spur greater innovation in sanitation.


Tove Larsen, second from right, of Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, talks about their diversion toilet at the "Reinventing the Toliet" Fair, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 201. (Ted S. Warren - AP)

For the past two days, Aug. 14-15, the Foundation has been hosting the Reinvent the Toilet Fair, where, aside from generating synthetic feces, the event featured a number of inventions — all related to sanitation.

The winners were announced Tuesday. The California Institute of Technology received the first prize of $100,000 for a solar-powered toilet design and generates energy in the form of hydrogen and electricity. Loughborough University won the $60,000 second-place prize for a toilet that produces charcoal, minerals and clean water by product. The $40,000 third place prize went to the University of Toronto for developing a toilet that turns human waste into clean water and other clean resources.


Marcos Fiovavanti, of the Ecuador-based "Fundacion In Terris" group, talks about the "Earth Auger Toliet," which is operated by a mechanical pedal and chain system, on display at the "Reinventing the Toliet" Fair, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012. (Ted S. Warren - AP)

The Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Sciences and Technology and Austrian design firm EOOS received special recognition and $40,000 for “their outstanding design of a toilet user interface,” according to a release.

So, what would your reinvented toilet look like? Let us know in the comments. And share your ideas for how best to recharge American innovation via our new Crowd Sourced tool.


Professor Michael Hoffman of California Institute of Technology (CIT) explains his research and development team's winning entry at the "Reinvent the Toilet Fair" competition at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation campus in Seattle, Washington on August 14, 2012. (ANTHONY BOLANTE - REUTERS)

Reinvent the Toilet

Read more news and ideas on Innovations:

Is a moon colony on the horizon?

Blue rocks on Mars?

‘We’re NASA and we know it’ (video)

By  |  06:05 PM ET, 08/15/2012

Categories:  Business, Invention, Research, Technology

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company