Caltech team wins $100k for toilet design

Aug. 15, 2012 at 12:48 PM
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PASADENA, Calif., Aug. 15 (UPI) -- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said a California Institute of Technology team has won a contest to "reinvent" the flush toilet.

Bill Gates announced the Caltech team has won a $100,000 prize in the "Reinvent the Toilet Challenge" by designing a toilet that filters liquid waste through a "sun-powered electrochemical reactor" that oxidizes the chlorine in the urine and kills microorganisms, allowing the liquid to be recycled back into the toilet, The Seattle Times reported Wednesday.

Michael Hoffmann, the Caltech professor who led the toilet team, said the device also produces hydrogen that can be used to power a cooking stove.

Gates said a team from Britain's University of Loughborough won the $60,000 second prize for a toilet that converts feces into charcoal and a University of Toronto team took the $40,000 third prize for a toilet that treats solid waste with dehydration and combustion.

Gates said he hopes aspects of many of the entries could be used to bring a new toilet design to market.

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