Let’s Get Our Shit Together

#82 Shit

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently unveiled plans to revolutionize the functional role of the toilet, extending its influence beyond a mere fecal depository. "Re-invent the toilet" is a new initiative from the foundation that refocuses attention on sanitation solutions that are affordable, sustainable, and resourceful. With DIY toilets like the Loveable Loo presently in the market, I'm intrigued as to how these grants reinvent resourcefulness. Existing eco-friendly compost toilets, such as the Loveable Loo, already provide sanitation access and means to farming. However, a recent multi-disciplinary team from the Water Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC) at Loughborough University in the UK are tipped to "re-invent the toilet" after receiving funding from the Gates Foundation. Led by Professor M. Sohail, the group have been tasked with turning human excreta into energy and other valuable resources through scientific processes that combine hydrothermal carbonisation and combustion. It sounds like a tall order, but it's about time we got our shit together. With technological advances bursting at the seams, things as basic as accessible sanitation should be a no brainer. Only time will tell whether this design group can move beyond humanure as an energy byproduct of human waste. The group will present their results in August 2012 before the foundation. Following the group's research and design process could translate into a very engaging short.