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Self-Cleaning, Solar-Powered Toilet Researchers from Caltech have developed a solar-powered, self-cleaning toilet able to convert human waste into hydrogen and fertilizer.

ENVIRONMENTAL Flush toilets require 10 times more water than our daily drinking water requirement.

Caltech’s toilet system uses the sun to power an electrochemical reactor. The reactor breaks down water and human waste into fertilizer and hydrogen, which can be stored in hydrogen fuel cells as energy. The treated water can then be reused to flush the toilet or for irrigation. The system can function off-grid and without any subsurface infrastructure.

SOCIAL 1.5 million children under the age of five die each year because of sanitation problems, according to the WHO.

The creators aim for a price of $1,000 per unit, which may be a barrier to extensive scaling. A new prototype will be available in July 2013, and is planned to be deployed in India by early 2014 for further testing.

ECONOMIC Caltech’s toilet system does not need expensive sewer systems or water supply infrastructure.

Why a Sustainia100 solution? 2.6 billion people do not have access to safe and affordable toilet facilities. Providing stand-alone sanitation facilities for developing countries and remote areas can eliminate the contamination of ground water, soil, and ecosystems caused by inappropriate human waste disposal, and thus improve human health and reduce child deaths.

Developed in USA

Deployed in USA, India, Peru, China, Thailand, Kenya

Solution by Caltech and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 121

2013 Sustainia100