As people become more dependent on technology, it is very important to remember that with technology comes pollution. It is time to use our brilliant minds to curb the pollution as we invent and develop eco-friendly ways to incorporate modern applications into today’s world.
One year ago the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation presented a competition to the world; the “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge”.
The challenge was to invent a new toilet that could serve the billions who live without the modern sanitary comforts that most take for granted. Many scientists and inventors stepped up to take the challenge with their teams.
The challenge culminated this year in Seattle, Washington.
Unique projects using eco-friendly methods to develop ways to turn waste into usable matter were on display. The largest contest went beyond the actual invention. Added to the competition was the additional challenge of keeping the operating costs for the toilet down to five cents a day.
A self reliant toilet that works with no running water or electricity.
The toilets vying for the prize must not rely on running water ,electricity, or any sort of septic system. Instead of polluting the environment with waste, the toilets need to be eco-responsible by finding a way to turn waste into useful and clean resources to curb diseases in developing nations that have been caused by unsanitary conditions.
Inventions turned waste into wants.
Scientists got very inventive and creative. Most of the toilets invented concentrated on recycling waste into useful energy. There were inventions that turned the waste into food for the animals and water to feed the crops. Other inventive creations turned the waste into water that could run the toilets themselves.
Brilliance, chemistry, and engineering wins the prize
- The winning $100,000 first place prize in the “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” went to a toilet designed by colleagues at Caltech. The toilets work by using solar power that turn waste into hydrogen gas that can be stored to be used for electricity.
- Loughborough University in the United Kingdom colleagues won the $60,000 second place award for their invention of a toilet that turns waste into a natural charcoal substance that can be burned to clean water.
- The third place $40,000 prize was won by colleagues at the University of Toronto in Canada for creating a design that can actually sanitize waste.
A last minute prize addition was added for “attractiveness”
- Another $40,000 prize was awarded to Tove Larsen of the aquatic research institute Eawag in Dübendorf, Switzerland and Harald Gründl of the design firm EOOS in Vienna, Austria along with their colleagues. Although their toilet appears expensive with a foot pump that recycles the water into a clear tank, it still met the criteria of working on at the most of five cents a day.
Brilliance does not always equate advanced technology.
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine used fly larvae to recycle waste into feed for animals at only one cents a day.
Hopes of eco and cost friendly toilets geared for underdeveloped nations are just the beginning.
Tons of potential drinking water is wasted each year with the flush of each toilet. More funding is to be provided to further develop the ultimate eco-friendly toilet. The final goal is “Toilet 2.0” with major testing to be in the plan by the year 2015.
Gates final goal is to reinvent the toilet for use not only in underdeveloped nations but to be ultimately designed to be used in developed countries as well.
Take a cue from the genius scientists; think outside of the box and never be afraid to dance!
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