New toilets: Bill Gates leads innovation in human sanitation

by Doyin Jaiyesimi

He revolutionised computers, now he wants to revolutionise toilets.

Last year, Bill Gates, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation raised a challenge to universities across the world to create a new toilet which will help improve worldwide sanitation.

Universities came up with different innovative ideas and the foundation has now announced the winners of the challenge. California Institute of Technology emerged as the first place winner of the challenge. The university was awarded $100,000 for its idea of a solar-powered toilet that generates hydrogen and electricity.

Loughborough University in the United Kingdom won second place for creating a toilet that produces biological charcoal, minerals and clean water for which it was awarded $60,000.

The University of Toronto came third and was awarded $40,000 for its toilet that sanitises faeces and urine and recovers resources and clean water.

The new innovations from the challenge will be showcased at a ‘Reinvent the Toilet Fair’ in Seattle, Washington, USA.

In addition to the funds given to the challenge winners, the foundation will be giving a second round of grants of up to $3.4 million to organizations that are working to innovate latrines.

For Bill and Melinda Gates, creative ideas on how to dispose of and recycle human waste are vital to improvements in human sanitation.

According to the World Health Organization about 2.5 billion people do not have access to modern toilets which leads to the spread of diarrheal diseases responsible for the deaths of 1.5 million children yearly.

“Innovative solutions change people’s lives for the better,” Bill Gates said. “If we apply creative thinking to everyday challenges, such as dealing with human waste, we can fix some of the world’s toughest problems.”

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