According to Bloomberg, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “spent $200 million over seven years funding sanitation research, showcased some 20 novel toilet and sludge-processing designs that eliminate harmful pathogens and convert bodily waste into clean water and fertilizer.” Gates told the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing on Tuesday that these technologies at the event “are the most significant advances in sanitation in nearly 200 years.” From the report: Holding a beaker of human excreta that, Gates said, contained as many as 200 trillion rotavirus cells, 20 billion Shigella bacteria, and 100,000 parasitic worm eggs, the Microsoft Corp. co-founder explained to a 400-strong crowd that new approaches for sterilizing human waste may help end almost 500,000 infant deaths and save $233 billion annually in costs linked to diarrhea, cholera and other diseases caused by poor water, sanitation and hygiene. One approach from the California Institute of Technology that Gates said he finds “super interesting” integrates an electrochemical reactor to break down water and human waste into fertilizer and hydrogen, which can be stored in hydrogen fuel cells as energy.
The reinvented toilet market, which has attracted companies including Japan’s LIXIL Group, could generate $6 billion a year worldwide by 2030, according to Gates. The initial demand for the reinvented toilet will be in places like schools, apartment buildings, and community bathroom facilities. As adoption of these multi-unit toilets increases, and costs decline, a new category of reinvented household toilets will become available, the Gates Foundation said.
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