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November 6, 2018 -- Bill Gates has been showcasing new approaches for sterilising human waste at the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing. One approach favoured by the billionaire philanthropist is Caltech’s self-contained, domestic toilet and wastewater treatment system – a recent winner of his foundation’s “Reinventing the Toilet Challenge”.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent $200 million over the last seven years, funding sanitation research projects, including 20 toilet and sludge-processing designs that convert human waste into clean water and fertiliser.
Gates finds one approach from the California Institute of Technology particularly interesting. It’s an electrochemical reactor which can break down water and human waste into fertiliser and hydrogen – which in turn can can be stored in fuel cells as energy.
For every dollar invested in sanitation, about $5.50 is returned to the global economiy, according to the World Health Organisation.