Scientists in the United Kingdom developed a waterless and inexpensive toilet with energy-producing capabilities. The new eco-friendly Nano Membrane Toilet is designed to help the 2.4 billion people worldwide without access to sanitized and safe lavatory facilities.

The environmentally-safe Nano Membrane Toilet has been in production for three years with trials scheduled in Africa in late 2016. If the trials in Africa proved successful, the nanotechnology could be utilized in a wide range of vehicles including luxury yachts and military vehicles. The team has secured financial backing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

 "The Nano Membrane Toilet has the potential to change millions of lives by providing access to safe and affordable sanitation," said Professor Elise Cartmell, Cranfield University's Director of Environmental Technology. Cartmell is part of the team behind the Cranfield's Nano Membrane Toilet.

The Nano Membrane Toilet is a finalist in the fourth Cleantech Innovate showcased by UK's ecoConnect CIC, a green industry business group. On Feb. 11, Jake Larsson from the University's Centre for Competitive Creative Design will lead the pitch for the Nano Membrane Toilet to investors, industry experts, support agencies and buyers at the Royal Institution in London.

How It Works

The new toilet utilizes a nanotech membrane. The toilet's special rotating mechanism and scraper keep the odors from escaping.

After depositing waste, the nanotech membrane separates the loosely bound water (majority from urine) and the solid waste (feces). The technology removes the virus, bacteria and other disease-causing microorganisms while the water is still in a vaporized state.

The back of the toilet contains the novel nano-coated beads, which helps the vaporized water to form clean water droplets on its surface. When the water droplets reach a certain size, the sanitized water can then be used in household activities such as washing clothes or watering some plants. The sanitized water can also be used in field irrigation.

"Once the waste is in the holding chamber we use membranes that take water out as vapour, which can then be condensed and available for people to use in their homes," said lead researcher Alison Parker.

An Archimedean screw system carries the remaining solid waste into a gasifier or misting chamber. As the solid wastes fall, they are coated with paraffin wax to keep the odors, viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms from escaping. This process also dries up the remaining solid wastes and produces energy to power the membrane process. Excess energy could be used to power low voltage objects such as mobile phones and the excess ash (dried up solid waste) can be used as fertilizers.

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