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Earth Technology

Solar-Powered Toilet Torches Waste For Public Health 126

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-just-for-something-and-grins dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Reinvent the Toilet challenge, [a] team has developed a toilet that uses concentrated solar power to scorch and disinfect human waste, turning feces into a useful byproduct called biochar ... a sanitary charcoal material that is good for soils and agriculture. By converting solid waste to biochar (liquid waste is diverted elsewhere, as it's easier to deal with), the toilet thus allows for sanitary waste disposal without huge infrastructure investments. The toilet itself, called the Sol-Char, is a fascinating bit of engineering. In order to sanitize waste without the help of massive treatment facilities, Linden's team instead designed the toilet to scorch waste in a chamber heated by fiber optic cables that pipe in heat from solar collectors on the toilet's roof. 'A solar concentrator has all this light focused in on one centimeter. It'd be fine if we could bring everyone's fecal waste up to that one point, like burning it with a magnifying glass,' Linden said. 'But that's not practical, so we were thinking of other ways to concentrate that light.'"
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Solar-Powered Toilet Torches Waste For Public Health

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  • by TWX (665546)
    Make the system detect something as it descends, and then hit it with the light/heat?

    Just don't mis-aim or focus up too high...
  • Bill Gates, with Windows OS, Office suite, and other software -and hardware- products changed the lifes of many people for the best - with the money people gave him for his products he continues to change the lifes of more people for the best.
    I respect this Man and i wish him the best - he deserves it.
    (haters gonna hate...)

    • by anubi (640541) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @04:49AM (#46497237) Journal
      Agreed.

      When some people accumulate enough wealth, they become empowered enough to make a difference in the history of man. Some ( like Gates ) are using their resources in a way which will benefit humanity, others will go out and buy all the rental property they can.

      I am hoping so badly ( hoping, mind you, not really anticipating ) that our lawmakers in Congress will see and craft tax law to encourage the kind of stuff Gates is doing and closing all of these tax advantages of simply rent-seeking and financial churning.

      If Gates gets favorable tax treatments for doing this kind of stuff, it only empowers him to do more similar things as well as lead others to use the power of their wealth in a similar manner.

      If there is one thing Gates has demonstrated over and over, he does have the leadership, organizational, and business skills to do it.

      I know I have left lots of anti-Microsoft rants here: I feel hypocritical in posting this. Those rants were my venting my frustration as an older guy about software becoming so un-necessarily complex with all these special interest groups trying to get their proprietary add-ons adopted into Windows that pranksters have started having a heyday leaving a mess in everyone's machine. I was rooting for a very simple but thoroughly understood OS that was pretty damned bulletproof. My feeling was if pranksters thought setting people's fancy little outhouses on fire, then what I wanted was a simple one made out of cinder block.
      • by sumdumass (711423)

        I am hoping so badly ( hoping, mind you, not really anticipating ) that our lawmakers in Congress will see and craft tax law to encourage the kind of stuff Gates is doing and closing all of these tax advantages of simply rent-seeking and financial churning.

        Gates is already using tax law that lawmakers in congress put to work years and years ago specifically for this type of thing.

        It's called a foundation and it is a non profit that people can funnel portions of their income into specifically for these purp

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by distilate (1037896)
      No he's just doing a Alfred nobel, trying to make up for his fuckups! cough windows cough
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Really? Whenever I think about Bill Gates, the first thing I think of is the stench of burning shit.

    • by Jmc23 (2353706) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @11:08AM (#46498291) Journal
      yeah, because moving away from user built composting toilets with natural materials that can be maintained by a person with 1 hour of training and moving towards complex systems that depend on the latest technology, labs to manufacture and engineers to maintain is good?
      • In all fairness, though, traditional composting toilets can't handle the volume produced in urban settings. They may be great for homes, but not so much for apartment housing, dormitories, airport terminals, etc. Biochar toilets can be adapted to meet at least some of these needs.

        Another point: biochar acts something like a catalyst to improve soil but is not consumed in the process. The carbon is effectively sequestered for thousands of years, but biocharred enriched soils are better at appropriate release of moisture and nutrients while also diluting many soil toxins.

        This might seem like the magic cure-all to all post-modern ills, but it isn't all blue sky hype. Each gram of biochar adds the surface area of a tennis court to the soil; a little bit of it goes a long way.

        One last point: composting toilets only work well if they are properly managed. I had the misfortune of having a country neighbor for several years who was learning how to manage her composting toilet, and there were definitely episodes of odor problems.

        • by Jmc23 (2353706)
          and just how much square metrage/footage of space do you think would be needed in an urban setting? Did you read the patent? No, of course you didn't, or you would have realized anything above a single family dwelling with multiple levels would run out of available space quite quickly.

          Sure, biochar may have slight benefits over compost, but do you have any clue how much it would cost to collect and distribute? No, of course you don't or you would know that the economic gain (if any depending on your pa

          • by Jmc23 (2353706)
            oh, and yeah, you really do need onsite training for composting toilets. While the USA has put out a lot of informative booklets on sustainable practices they're always a little lacking on the proper maintenance.
          • Please read up on biochar before spouting off on a subject you know nothing about.

            • by Jmc23 (2353706)
              I did, I plan on experimenting with it in comparison to a composting toilet and a biogas digester. Now go read the patent, when you realize it's not feasible for an urban setting put away your cock, this isn't a pissing contest.
        • Without saying too much, I have some first-hand experience with traditional and some not-so-traditional composting toilets. That experience leads me to believe that a manufactured composting toilet, a user-built Jenkins-style composting toilet, and a multi-chambered composting toilet, can all be easily scaled up. The Jenkins-style system, in particular, is dead-easy to scale.

          The challenge is that the western world has grown used to the flush-toilet. All that extra moisture presents a problem to any composti

  • Ferguson (Score:5, Funny)

    by LookIntoTheFuture (3480731) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @02:48AM (#46497003)

    We need to think of sanitation as a business opportunity, and turn the toilet into a status symbol.

    AL (LOOKS UPWARD) Oh, dad. Look. I'm sitting on a Ferguson of my own. Just like you knew I would.

    PEGGY (BEAT) Remember this at the trial, kids.

  • It all seems trivial if he is successful building this. I suppose it's true that applying tech to poop isn't something a lot of people are researching.

    • by phayes (202222)

      There are multiple reasons we pipe sewage away from where we live to be treated and public health isn't people's major motivator. It's smell.

      Even in societies without piping people were digging latrines and putting outhouses way back at the other side of the garden to contain/diminish the odor.

      By scorching feces to sterilize it, it is in effect gasifying it. it's self evident that this system will stink far over and beyond what an outhouse would. Thus while geeky enough to make /.'s front page on a slow Sun

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 16, 2014 @04:23AM (#46497177)
        For places without sewage plumbing but still not isolated enough that a hole in the ground is sufficient and where separation+infiltration is not viable either, there are mulching toilets, but in those you still need to change not too pleasant buckets once in a while. But there are also incinerating toilets using either gas (propane) or electricity, and they're quite OK. All that is left is a small can of ash, that can be used in the garden. This solar toilet looks to be just another way of providing the heat in such a toilet.
        • by Will.Woodhull (1038600) <wwoodhull@gmail.com> on Sunday March 16, 2014 @01:32PM (#46499309) Homepage Journal

          Well, yes, but with this difference: incineration pumps all the carbon in the poop into the atmosphere. Biochar production uses the heat to run a pyrolytic, anaerobic reaction where a good portion of the carbon is turned to charcoal and sequestered away for several thousand years. Since the charcoal retains the microscopic physical structures of cell walls, etc, it also has some very good soil building qualities, such as retaining fertilizers for slow release and increasing the moisture holding capability of the soil.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Eh no.
        Look up pyrolysis. Instead of simmering for hours in tropical heat, the poo will be subject to pyrolysis in mere minutes in a low oxygen environment. Gases produced will be mainly syngas, which is odourless.

      • by shitzu (931108) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @04:29AM (#46497197)

        Also - it is crazy complicated. I have a "bio" outhouse in my summer house that is in essence just a plastic container. You fill the bottom and a filtering compartment with sawdust. Liquids go through sawdust and seep under a bush. Every time you take a dump you throw a bit of sawdust on it. It does not smell (actually, as i use juniper sawdust, it smells quite pleasantly like gin). The end result i put under another bush in autumn and use as a fertilizer next spring. Why would i use a complex system of solar power and fiber and lord knows how many dollars to achieve the same end result?

        • by sumdumass (711423) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @04:39AM (#46497213) Journal

          Why would you used a complex system like this? Because you are not at your summer house and instead in Haiti right after the earth quake where they can bring a bunch of these things in easily and have a more sanitary situation then waiting a year for it to decompose properly. Now exchange Haiti with any other city and any other disaster and you won't have to worry about your kids picking berries and foraging for food from the bush your neighbor shits under.

          • by phayes (202222)

            So, it is your position that BillG & co came up with this system for quick deployment in disaster zones and not as a long term solution? That explains why they push biochar as such a major benefit. After all, everyone needs biochar right after a major disaster, right?

            Note that I recognise the sanitary advantages, but just doubt that unless they make is smell less than I fear, it will not be widely deployed. Health advantages are insufficient. People know that riding a motorcycle or a scooter without a h

            • by sumdumass (711423)

              So, it is your position that BillG & co came up with this system for quick deployment in disaster zones and not as a long term solution? That explains why they push biochar as such a major benefit.

              I believe this is one of the reasons or uses behind it. I'm sure it would also be put into use in areas that electricity or power of some sort is difficult and expensive to come by. Remote villages might be one, lands on or near certain habitats that need protection for whatever reasons might be another.

              After

              • by phayes (202222)

                So, it is your position that BillG & co came up with this system for quick deployment in disaster zones and not as a long term solution? That explains why they push biochar as such a major benefit.

                I believe this is one of the reasons or uses behind it. I'm sure it would also be put into use in areas that electricity or power of some sort is difficult and expensive to come by. Remote villages might be one, lands on or near certain habitats that need protection for whatever reasons might be another.

                Sorry, you missed the sarcasm. My overly subtle point was that this solar crap cooker isn't designed for disaster relief (pun intended) because one of it's major selling points, biochar is close to irrelevant in that context. In other words, you don't sell disease prevention by selling long term fertiliser benefits. Another point being that disaster relief doesn't reliably coincide with near constant sunshine.

                On motorcycle protection: Given the trauma causes in 2&3 wheel vehicle accidents, wearing a hel

                • by sumdumass (711423)

                  Sorry, you missed the sarcasm. My overly subtle point was that this solar crap cooker isn't designed for disaster relief (pun intended) because one of it's major selling points, biochar is close to irrelevant in that context. In other words, you don't sell disease prevention by selling long term fertiliser benefits. Another point being that disaster relief doesn't reliably coincide with near constant sunshine.

                  You are right, I missed your sarcasm but as I said before, long term fertilizer benefits is nothing

                • Hell as a bicycle rider I once suffered not wearing a helmet. I must fave fell from a crack in the ground or stupid inattention, but I can't know as I suffered a very minor amesia from the shock. It was at about 30 kph (about 20 mph) or maybe a bit less and that is a violent shock already, imagine running as fast as you can into a wall.. So with more speed, colliding your head with the ground will probably make you a cripple for life or kill you either instantly or slowly.

                  It was in the night, and there were

              • Well, I ride without a helmet all the time. It's only a hazard if have an accident and a helmet can introduce it's own set of hazards too. That being said, I specifically choose to not wear a helmet and if I wreck, I am endangering only my life.

                If you injure yourself you will not show up to work, and society at large will have to pay for your medical surgery and expenses if you're not dead, possibly for years or the rest of your life. Thus most developed countries ban the use of motorbikes without helmet.

                • by sumdumass (711423)

                  I'm so sick of that BS. If I injure myself, my insurance will kick in and society will not foot any bills. And before you claim insurance is society paying, it is not as the actuaries already charged me a rate for expected claims coverage.

                  Non free countries force riders to wear helmets. I happen to live in a somewhat free country. You can keep your non free country that tells you what you can and cannot do based around someone's irrational fear of having to provide some medical coverage or whatever. When ar

                  • Even in the US you will eventually end up on Social Security or Medicaid once you're a destitute cripple.
                    Um.. whatever country you are from, I guess you're insured because it was mandated by law, hahaha.

            • As pointed out several times already, there would be no odor from biochar production: what would produce the odors is burned as part of the process.

              Not emphasized, but of great importance, is that biochar sequesters carbon for thousands of years.

              Also not emphasized, but also of great importance, biochar is a potent soil amendment. It can recover the health of soils depleted by monoculture farming practices, for instance.

              • by phayes (202222)

                Sorry, my initial post was when there were only a handful of posts and none of them addressed the odor issue.

                So, biochar sequesters carbon for thousands of years AND is a potent soil amendment at the same time? Miraculous stuff indeed...

          • by rtb61 (674572)

            Now for some reality. High capital cost, high maintenance. Problems, urine, diarrhoea, dust storms, clouds, high humidity etc. Number of users versus numbers of toilets. Sewerage also includes washing water, showers, bath, hand basin and, kitchen sink.

            Question would it be simpler to bring in normal toilet blocks and a mobile sewerage treatment plant, something along the lines of a methane powered digester that could actually deal with all sewerage requirements not just dried out poop. Answer, well duh. F

            • Sewerage also includes washing water, showers, bath, hand basin and, kitchen sink.

              These things are not a biohazard. Poop is.
              Assuming a biodegradable detergent is used the things you mentioned in that list can just be dumped in the surface water without environmental effects.
              Poop in drinking water is dangerous because it is loaded with bacteria. The gut bacteria from one person can cause diarrhea in another person.
              Urine is no biohazard (except for when the source has a bladder infection or something like it). Kidneys are molecular sieves, amongst other things. Bacteria and viruses can not

              • by rtb61 (674572)

                Hmm, it would seem you have never heard of blood in urine, http://www.webmd.com/digestive... [webmd.com]. Where blood can pass, so can any other infection within the body, not just urinary tract infections. This is for disaster zones, people will be injured, under extreme stress and concentrated in rescue zones subject to a full range of infectious diseases, all bodily fluids should be considered risky and need to be contained and treated. Treating just the main problem and ignoring all other problems is just plain stu

                • But not treating the main problem even more stupid.
                  Yes, there can be blood in urine. I forgot that. However that is not common and a clear sign of physical damage in the kidney or urinary tract. Normally urine is next to sterile.

                  • by rtb61 (674572)

                    Look here is how it works. You have methane digestors (designed to promote digestion of waste by microbes to produce methane). Methane filtration and storage. Methane cogeneration gas turbines, turbine generates electricity, water cooling generates hot water for washing, exhaust generates steam for cooking in conjunction with electric cooking. Portable ablution blocks and portable kitchen. Everything in modules and you add additional units for greater use. You are locked into an idea not because it is goo

        • by dasunt (249686)

          Sounds like something straight out of the humanure book [humanurehandbook.com].

          IIRC, the compost in a properly setup and maintained system will destroy pathogens, at least according to the tests the author did.

          IMO, the technology/cost of this biochar system seems like it could, in most circumstances, be spent better elsewhere, since a humanure setup should cost less and be able to be built with mostly local materials.

      • by dargaud (518470)
        I was about to ask the same question. I shat for a year in a 'burner'. It took some practise and self control to get used to piss and shit separately. But also that shit-burner (a resistor in our case), stank to all hell. Normally the smoke would go outside in a chimney... Until it froze. Imagine having the smell of cooking shit all over the building. I had to rappel down the building in -65C temperatures to fix the chimney ! Complete story here [gdargaud.net].
        • Biochar is produced through pyrolysis, not incineration. That's a very different, and odorless, technology. (Basically, you burn the smells as an integral part of the process.)

      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        you'd be surprised at how old days had solved this problem. The real reason we pipe sewage away is for convenience. (toilets are sometimes called a "convenience" for a reason).

        In the past you basically had a pit that you shat into. The trick then is to cover it with a layer of dry dirt. Try dryness is what's important. This soaks up the wetness of the turds and really converts it from a nasty smelly thing into.. well, basically dirt.

        There was a programme on TV about what we did before water closets. It was

        • by cusco (717999)

          another western technical solution to fundamental problems that don't need solving. . . The reason you get diseases spreading out there is because people just shit in the street.

          Do you have any idea why they "shit in the street"? Obviously not, since you seem to think that the problem exists because poor people are ignorant. If you put 30 seconds of thought into it you should be able to figure out that even poor people know that it's unsanitary, stinks, causes disease, and is embarrassing. They do it b

          • by gbjbaanb (229885)

            seriously, you think that people shit in the middle of the road because they have nowhere else to do it?

            Sanitation can involve digging a latrine at the end of the road, or by the side. It doesn't take much land at all. Generally their problem with that is that they fill up and then they have to dig another, so they stop bothering.

            It is an education issue, as places where they were given squat latrines and shown how to maintain them, their conditions improved. And by "squat latrine" I mean a covered hole wit

            • by cusco (717999)

              At the end of the road, or at the side of the road, doesn't matter. Those places have owners. Are you going to give up a piece of your property so that everyone in the neighborhood can take a dump in front of your house? In most places the only thing of value any poor person will ever accumulate is a piece of land, even if they're just squatters they'll defend it with their life because they don't have anything else. They're not going to give up their one and only asset just so that their neighbors have

      • Biochar production from garden debris burns the gasses it produces; I would expect the same of a biochar toilet. It just makes sense: you have a source of ignition and the burning adds more heat to the pyrolysis process.

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      Well, I guess it will make it easier to display the at the stores. You know, when a kid gets potty trained and you are at the hardware store looking for something to fix your leaky faucet and turn to find Junior is looking for the TP and asking you to help wipe. Now all they need to do is stick it outside for a couple hours.

      My question is, how will this smell. I've had the misfortune of having to pour diesel fuel on a pile of shit and burning it before and it wasn't a good experience. And that outhouse was

      • Can't find it in the article but it doesn't have to be smelly. If the gasses are heated to a sufficiently high temperature without oxygen we can not smell them anymore. This because the smelly molecules fall apart in these conditions. The end products (in this case the gaseous end products will probably include H2, CH4, CO2 and H2O) are not smelly (although the mixture is probably flammable)
        Heating without oxygen is how biochar is made.
        Assuming this thing seals the reaction chamber before heating the poop t

    • It all seems trivial if he is successful building this.

      When he makes a public apology for funding SCO to try to destroy Linux . . . then I'll forgive him.

      Although, I like his "Turd Torcher". He's taken the concept of "Fart Lighting" one step further. Other folks are trying to build "Smarter Cities". Gates is building "Smarter Shitters" . . .

    • by jafiwam (310805)

      It all seems trivial if he is successful building this. I suppose it's true that applying tech to poop isn't something a lot of people are researching.

      It looks like the one key feature "how to get the poop hot enough" has some fundamental unworkable problems with it. The fiber optic gets cm square hot, not a big area (say, probably the size of a large stew pot) hot.

      That means, he's just got a toilet with a light in it.

      Those things are going to be huge, hard to build, and need lots of materials from somewhere.

      Neat idea, but won't work. Industrialized countries with problems of "how do we make a trail side toilet work" may be able to use them though

  • ...shit invention I've seen for a long time.
  • by jones_supa (887896) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @03:47AM (#46497101)
    While Bill has a lot of resources to shove on these projects, he is also showing an example of "let's get up and go fix the world". I bet there are even more things to do and fix than the projects on which Gates is working on. It does not always even have to be based on some revolutionary technology or heaps of cash, there are possibilities that just have to be utilized. Let's do it.
    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      Are you serious? He isn't solving anything. He's throwing impractical tech he's invested in at everything. It's microsoft all over again just more subtle.
      • Isn't solving anything?!
        • by Jmc23 (2353706)
          An advanced resource and knowledge intensive hi-tech 'solution' for a problem in areas that have neither and no money to pay for billy to make them one is not a solution. It's a money making grab.

          Every single idea that was sustainable and easily built and maintained by locals was rejected!!

  • When I look at the photo of this thing, a solar-electric panel with a battery and a heating element doesn't seem more resource hungry.
    • by cbhacking (979169)

      Photovoltaics are incredibly inefficient. I don't know how much energy they're losing in the glass, but it's probably not 70%-80%.

      Also, photovoltaics and batteries are expensive. A lens (doesn't have to be a really good lens) and some glass fibers is probably cheaper. That matters a *lot* for the uses they're envisioning.

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        Seems like it would make more sense to come up with a way to store the waste and process it the next day.

      • That whole rig looks quite expensive. I wouldn't have commented if it didn't. The manufacturing process for the glass fibers used for this project had to be custom designed, and isn't going to have close to the economics of scale that photovoltaic manufacturing gets. I have a feeling that the biggest problem with supplying a waste treatment facility equipped with photovoltaics is the difficulty in forcing the poor people to use the electricity for processing waste.
    • Keep in mind this thing is meant to be used in places without plumbing... in a lot of cases that means there will also be a lack of replacement solar panels or the tools / skills to repair this setup. The problem of deploying 1st world stuff in 3rd world countries is not the stuff itself, but the expense and parts required to keep it in good repair. Simpler is better in this case.
      • A battery and a resistance heater aren't exactly limited to being 1st world technology these days. Solar electric panels may be challenging to manufacture, but the cost is no longer huge and continues to fall rapidly, and they are simple to install. Fiber optic cables used in a design where "packing them tightly without melting was a challenge that required a lot of direct work with materials manufacturers" aren't something that will be locally sourced in 3rd world countries either.

        I never think of bal
  • Sounds like it could be turned into a humane alternative to lethal injection.

    • How long do you calculate it would take to kill someone by this method?

      Some say nitrogen narcosis is the way to go.

  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @04:01AM (#46497135)
    So here we have this commode that uses solar power to burn turds and they want people in developing nations to install and use them while the wealthy in the developed world continue flushing their porcelain thrones with gallons of fresh potable water? Perfect.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The infrastructure already exists in developed countries and it is trivial to roll out more. I get the impression that this solution is much cheaper and easier to roll out than an entire sewer system.

      P.S: more and more houses are using recycled water for toilets (at least here in Australia they are)

    • by cusco (717999)

      Any idea what it costs to roll out a sewage system and a potable water system into an area that doesn't already have one? The expense in time, manpower, materials and money is an enormous investment, it will take a poor neighborhood in a developing country 20 years or more to be ale to afford installation. My brother-in-law is a civil engineer in Peru, even with full funding provided by the central government it took 6-8 years to install water and sewer to the small town of Hyru, population less than 5000

    • Water is mostly a distribution problem. The water I use to flush my toilets wouldn't have gone to the water-deprived if I hadn't used it.

  • "Solar Powered Toilet Torches deemed a Waste to the Public Health budget" is one example misreading.

  • Bill Gates does indeed believe the sun shines out of his ass.
  • When I just look at the image, this is not something I would imagine in some poor country where people can not even afford a bucket for their waste.
    So not sure where they wuld put it.

  • by cascadingstylesheet (140919) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @07:42AM (#46497575)
    I was thinking, "why yes, 'solar powered toilet torches', whatever those might be, probably are a waste for public health ..."
    • by Donwulff (27374)

      That was the way I read it until I took in the summary, too. I was really disappointed when I grasped the real meaning, because the original reading made a whole lot more sense. At our summer villa we used to use solar-charged "lanterns" in the dark, such as going to the outhouse after sun had set. These are obviously "toilet torches". I'm not sure why you would even consider them for public health, but they'd probably end up doing very little for it, beyond preventing some campers or outhouse-users from st

  • by Anonymous Coward

    All the Third World countries I've visited already smell like burning shit

  • by pubwvj (1045960) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @08:35AM (#46497683)

    This is a classic example of too much technology, over thinking and wasting energy and other resources. It would be far, far better to compost the manure and urine creating value soil amendment.

    Oh, wait, you say that isn't an option in the cities. Well, cities, yes, well, there's your problem.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Oh, wait, you say that isn't an option in the cities. Well, cities, yes, well, there's your problem.

      Yes, yes it is. Not in the cities, but while living in the cities, via AIWPS [sdsu.edu]. The short explanation is that your shit is pumped into the bottom of ponds with a methane-capturing plastic liner protected from UV damage by virtue of being submerged. Eventually the ponds fill up and they're left to cook momentarily before being sludged out for compost. Heavy metals settle to the bottom and microbes destroy virtually all pathogens and most other contaminants.

      Cities are not the problem. Where cities are located i

    • by rahvin112 (446269)

      Human waste used on crops for consumption is a major vector of transmission of disease in undeveloped countries. Human pathogens can survive the composting process. This is actually a major vector for Hepatitis transmission in the undeveloped world. We shouldn't be encouraging these practices because of the significant number of lives lost to disease due to these practices. One of the major advancements in industrialization is the end of these processes and the eventual banning of them.

      Urine is sterile and

  • by Jody Bruchon (3404363) on Sunday March 16, 2014 @09:17AM (#46497809)
    All the eco-friendly stuff is ignored by building codes, so while this toilet might exist and have potential, good luck getting it to pass local codes for permitting. Whether you want to build a membrane structure (like a yurt) or use composting toilets or harvest rainwater or use solar for your electricity, you'll have a hard time getting any of it approved. If they're going to make toilets like this, they need to make an effort to get building codes across the country fixed to allow lower-footprint solutions. In many places it's even illegal to live with solar/wind alone and they will come after you if you're not connected to the power grid.
    • by kesuki (321456)

      the whole point of the toilet is that it gets rid of waste with 0 water usage. in many regions water is scarce and what little there is is used for drinking water. this is not a kit for people with septic or city sewer, as their water usage is predicted already, with logistics.

      as for off the grid living you can blame congress for that. they passed laws so that 99% of the population has to be on grid and with telephone service... as a 'basic' human right. at least that was their logic when they passed the l

    • by Jeremi (14640)

      All the eco-friendly stuff is ignored by building codes, so while this toilet might exist and have potential, good luck getting it to pass local codes for permitting

      The places where a toilet like this would be most useful are not known for their strict observance of building codes [wordpress.com].

  • Fiber optics? Seriously? Way to make the poor and unfortunate forever dependent on you.

    If for some reason you want pyrolysis instead of composting why not design a solution that people can build themselves. Say, a parabolic trough collector focusing on oil filled piping to heat the fecal matter. Such collectors built out of aluminum foil have been shown to be able to get temperature above 400f.

    oh wait, but then Bill and his cronies wouldn't be able to get rich.

    On a side note, I'll definitely try some ex

  • especially if you have a whole bunch of these toilets in one location.

    The solar power thing is neat, but an incinerating toilet is nothing new. Have seen them at remote locations like mountaintop transmitter shacks, etc, where there is no water or sewer service available:

    http://incinolet.com/ [incinolet.com]

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    And yes, they STINK.

  • nature. _extremely_ efficient.

    human. _extremely_ inefficient.

    that's a problem when there are 7 billion extremely inefficient humans.

  • Does fecal matter?
  • The Australian government is turning our fiber plans to shit. Bill G is using fiber to burn shit.
  • Subject says it all.

APL is a write-only language. I can write programs in APL, but I can't read any of them. -- Roy Keir

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