Imagine a multi-user toilet facility that combines hygiene safety, user friendliness and environmental protection, or a toilet with an onsite waste water treatment and recycling unit that can be powered by solar panels or by electricity.
These are the prototypes developed by IIT Kanpur and California Institute of Technology (CALTECH).
The Nano Membrane Toilet by the Cranfield University, UK has a waterless flush that blocks the user’s view of the waste and prevents odours from escaping. The Sot-Char Toilet of the University of Colorado uses solar energy to transform both faecal material and urine into disinfected commercially viable end products such as solid fuel, heat and fertilizer.
These were among a pool of 45 exhibits from 15 countries at Reinvent the Toilet Fair organised by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Creating sanitation infrastructure and public service that works for everyone is a great challenge. There is an urgent need to go for a decentralised approach. The new toilets should be more affordable, better for the environment and less wasteful of resources,” says Hari Menon, deputy director, India Country Programmes, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
From the last fair, most prototypes have become compact and more cost-effective, he said adding: “Now, we have to value engineer them and go for field-testing.”
Co-hosted with department of biotechnology and other government partners, the fair, held for the second time after 2012 showcased innovations that are creating a new vision for the next generation of sanitation .
Six Indian innovators were selected to contribute to the development of sanitation solutions as part of the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge.
Yan Qu, a post doctoral researcher from CALTECH said: “We already have a prototype in Ahmedabad and soon will be establishing one in Kerala also.”