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Ground-breaking solar-powered toilet set for launch in India

Researchers at University of Colorado Boulder have designed a toilet that will be fuelled by the Sun.

Zee Media Bureau

New York: Researchers at University of Colorado Boulder have designed a toilet that will be fuelled by the Sun.

The unique solar-powered toilet is self-contained and waterless. It has the capability of heating human waste to a high enough temperature to sterilise human waste and create biochar.
It is being built with the idea to provide safe and hygienic sanitation facility to around 2.5 billion people. It will be unveiled in India this month.

Project principal investigator Karl Linden, professor of environmental engineering at University of Colorado Boulder, said “The CU-Boulder invention consists of eight parabolic mirrors that focus concentrated sunlight to a spot no larger than a postage stamp on a quartz-glass rod connected to eight bundles of fibre-optic cables, each consisting of thousands of intertwined, fused fibres”.

The energy generated by the Sun and transferred to fibre-optic cable system can heat up the reaction chamber to over 600 degrees Fahrenheit to treat the waste material, disinfect pathogens in both faeces and urine, and produce char.
Biochar is a valuable material. It has good water holding capacity and it can be used in agricultural areas to hold in nutrients and bring more stability to soil.

A soil mixture containing 10 percent biochar can hold up to 50 percent more water and increase the availability of plant nutrients.

While the current toilet has been created to serve four to six people a day, a larger facility that could serve several households simultaneously is under design.

The project is part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation`s `Reinvent the Toilet Challenge`, an effort to develop a next-generation toilet that can be used to disinfect liquid and solid waste while generating useful end products.

Unsafe methods to capture and treat human waste result in serious health problems and death - food and water tainted with pathogens from faecal matter result in the deaths of roughly 700,000 children each year.

(With Agency inputs)

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