Bill Gates has it clear: Your waste should not harm the environment, and that includes fecal matter. This is what led the billionaire to reinvent one of the most common features of a home: the toilet.
Together with Samsung Electronics, Gates has announced the completion of the ‘Reinvent the Toilet Challenge,’ which has culminated in the development of a “safe” prototype toilet that turns fecese into ashes.
The technology used in this toilet was developed by the Samsung Institute of Advanced Technology (SAIT), to combat unsafe sanitation practices. The emerging toilet technologies efficiently are able to better manage human waste effectively without the need to use water to function. This is critical for the toilet to be sent to areas where water scarcity remains a serious issue.
At the moment, very little is known about this device beyond its operation and the basis of its construction, which is focused on energy efficiency. Why such a concept is being touted is a bit odd, considering that of the complaints one could make of toilets, its energy usage does not typically appear at the top of this list.
However this toilet, differs in that regard has it uses energy to dehydrate solid waste, dry it, and burn it to ashes. For their part, the liquids receive a biological purification treatment, but all the water used is recycled.
This is possible through thermal treatment and bioprocessing technology that eliminates pathogens present in human waste. The SAIT also made clear that the prototype is safe for home use.
How did the idea come about?
This innovative idea emerged in 2019 as a result of SAIT’s fundamental pillar of research and development. The team working on the project relied on support from the Samsung electronics team, and later Gates, having taken notice of the idea and joined the team. With support from Gates, the team worked to invent the toilet, giving a new meaning to the bathroom. Now, further tests and development will go into the product
Three years later, the prototype comes to light, making it clear that something as basic as going to the bathroom can be changed to be more environmentally friendly. However, before conclusions are drawn on this front, someone should consider how much energy these toilets require, as well as the elements and other materials needed for their construction. If, together, these materials have a higher environmental footprint than a traditional toilet, the team may need to return to the drawing board.