Credit: Karl Linden @ University of Colorado

We humans certainly have a lot of global issues to deal with. We are faced with global warming, the need to avert dangerous pandemic diseases, improve education levels and providing food and water for everyone – just to mention a few.

But there is one issue that probably doesn’t get as much attention, we 7 billion humans all need to poop, and 2,5 billion of us do not have proper facilities to do so.

This problem goes hand in hand with health and the spread of diseases. And at its foundation, it is a great divide between wealthy and poor. It is also an environmental problem when human waste is released into rivers and oceans, this results in over-fertilization, toxic algae bloom, and death of fauna.

The picture to the left shows an odd looking toilet. A solar-powered toilet that burns poo and converts it into pellets. These pellets of biochar are both sanitary and can be used as a fertilizer.

The toilette operates with solar panels that collect solar energy and then focus it on a tiny surface, and from there the energy is transported via fiber optics so that all the energy from its eight collectors are gathering in one place, heating a chamber where the feces are burnt at 315 degrees Celsius (599 Fahrenheit).

The toilet is a part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation project ‘Reinvent the toilet challenge”; “An effort to develop “next-generation” toilets that will deliver safe and sustainable sanitation to the 2.5 billion people worldwide who don’t have it”.

The team from the University of Chicago that built the toilet prototype has managed to collect 777,000 dollars from the Gates Foundation to start with, and now they have been granted another million dollars to develop a toilet with the aim of making large sewage and sanitation infrastructure almost unnecessary.

Reinvent the toilet challenge