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Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
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on Thursday, 16 August 2012
in Classic & Cutting-Edge Technology

Tackling Toilet Technology

blue green toilet blondieb38You’ve heard the phrase “re-inventing the wheel” and this week innovators from universities around the world were  “reinventing the toilet” in Seattle, after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sent out a call normally reserved for plumbers: “We need the toilet fixed.”

Last year the foundation issued the Re-invent the Toilet Challenge to: “design toilets that can capture and process human waste without piped water, sewer or electrical connections, and transform human waste into useful resources, such as energy and water, at an affordable price.”

“Innovative solutions change people’s lives for the better,” said foundation Co-chair Bill Gates in the statement about the challenge. “If we apply creative thinking to everyday challenges, such as dealing with human waste, we can fix some of the world’s toughest problems.”

For instance, as the foundation’s infographic for the event succinctly put it: “2.6 billion people still don’t have a safe, affordable way to poop.” Countries lacking facilities, and those that have unsanitary ones, compounded with the scarcity of water can create unhealthy living conditions and unsafe food for their people.

Yesterday Gates announced the winners on the second and final day of the Reinvent the Toilet Fair which was hosted by the foundation at their west coast headquarters.

The California Institute of Technology was awarded $100,000 and placed first for a solar-powered toilet that generates hydrogen and electricity.

Followed by the UK’s Loughborough University who won $60,000 and second place for a toilet that produces biological charcoal, minerals, and clean water.

Canada’s University of Toronto won the third place and  $40,000 for a toilet that sanitizes waste and recovers resources and clean water.

But one of the winners you have likely seen several pictures of by now was the toilet that received special diversion toilet EAWAG RTTCrecognition for “outstanding design of a toilet-user interface.”

The foot pedal operated fixture with a tall back is a modern-squatting toilet and was designed by Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology) with EOOS. The toilet separates waste and diverts the water for handwashing while only using about 1 to 1.5 liter of water for each individual use. The water is cleansed by a membrane filter and electrolysis by a solar powered electrode. The toilet is not connected to a water supply.

“Imagine what’s possible if we continue to collaborate, stimulate new investment in this sector, and apply our ingenuity in the years ahead,” added Gates. “Many of these innovations will not only revolutionize sanitation in the developing world, but also help transform our dependence on traditional flush toilets in wealthy nations.”

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Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of Lake Erie in Northeast Ohio. Samina and her husband believe that sustainability starts in the home and try to live their lives as simply as possible without compromising comfort.

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1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.

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1945: Delivered to US Army.

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1950: Acquired by the US Navy on July 1, 1950 and placed in service as USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1954: The movie, Mister Roberts, was made on the USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.

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1963: Reclassified as Miscellaneous Unclassified (IX-308).

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1971: The New Bedford (IX-308) served as a Torpedo Test Firing Vessel in the Puget Sound area.

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1994: Ceremony in New Bedford.

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1995: The ship was struck from the Naval Register on April 4.

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2004: The Sea Bird's current disposition is a tuna long liner (fishing boat) out of San Diego, CA.

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2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.

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2007: The Sea Bird was drydocked for renovations.

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2008: The Sea Bird setting sail to Sea-Tac in Seattle, WA.

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2009 - 2010: The Sea Bird is currently docked at Seattle Sea-Tac.

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