Philanthropist and billionaire, Bill Gates knows how to get an audience’s attention and did just that by placing a jar of human faeces on the table as he spoke at the Reinvented Toilet expo in China.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent over $US200 million to fund sanitation research. They believe innovative toilet technology has the potential to save thousands of human lives. Gates explained that new designs could offer alternate methods of sterilising waste to alleviate major health risks to populations in developing countries posed by harmful pathogens.
Companies presented technology that converts waste into fertiliser or even purified water. One design integrates an electrochemical reactor to convert waste to fertiliser and hydrogen which could be then stored and converted into hydrogen fuel cells into electricity. Guy Hutton of UNICEF explained,
“Given the unmet need of 2.3 billion people still without basic sanitation, there is a potentially very substantial market and economic gain to be had.”
This story is featured in the 9 November 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.