Five Rejected Headlines for Bill Gates’ High-Tech ToiletAugust 21, 2012 10:55 am ·
Last week in Seattle the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted a Reinvent the Toilet Fair, bringing together academics, inventors and other interested parties to create a better solution than the traditional flush-powered toilet we’ve been using for the past 200 years. It’s part of the Foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet Challenge that is taking on the problem of sanitation in the developing world.
“The flush toilets we use in the wealthy world are irrelevant, impractical and impossible for 40 percent of the global population, because they often don’t have access to water, and sewers, electricity, and sewage treatment systems,” says Gates on his blog. “Worldwide, there are 2.5 billion people without access to safe sanitation.”
Beyond the health and safety concerns, the Foundation is also calling on inventors and academics to create a toilet that can generate power. According to their video (below), the toilet of the future should be able to “turn crap into valuable resources, like clean burning fuel, fertilizer and believe it or not, fresh water.”
One grant recipient may already be doing just that. Using microwaves and a process called “plasma gasification,” Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands is developing a toilet that will turn human fecal waste into a synthetic gas. This gas will in turn be used to produce electricity.
Rethinking toilet technology is indeed a worthy challenge, but our inner junior higher can’t help but snicker a bit (we’ve already demonstrated that we’re not above a good poop tech joke here on the blog). And this particular story had so many headline possibilities we just couldn’t decide. So here now are five rejected headlines for Bill Gates’ high-tech toilet: