Flush toilets create a real stink in slum communities. Not only do they require often non-existent sewage connections for safe disposal of waste, but they also drain already scarce water resources – no matter where they are. So the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation launched the “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge.”
This initiative aims to reward innovators who design a modern system that requires no water or energy, leaks zero pollutants but recovers nutrients, and which costs no more than 5 cents per person per day to run. Sound impossible? Not for the developers of Ashpoopie – a secret formula that turns dog poop into ash within seconds.
To be frank, when we first learned about Ashpoopie designed by Professor Oded Shoseyov from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, we were more than a little skeptical. What secret formula can turn dog poop into ash without exacting some kind of environmental toll, we wondered?
But now Paulee Cleantech, founded in part by Oded Halperin, has applied Shoseyov’s patent-pending design to toilets that will turn human waste into a safe fertilizer within 30 seconds – without using a single drop of water!
A revolutionary water-free toilet
“For the solid waste, which also can include toilet paper, we are mixing it with our chemical formula for not more than 30 seconds and it will turn immediately into odorless, sterile fertilizer,” Halperin tells ISRAEL21c. “The fertilizer will be automatically dropped into a removable canister where it can be collected from time to time and than be used for field and/or home crops.”
Liquid waste will be collected and sterilized separately and then used to flush the toilets, mitigating the need for any additional water to keep this toilet system sanitary.
One of few Israeli companies to have captured the attention of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Halperin told ISRAEL21c, Paulee Cleantech has received $110,000 to further research and develop their concept. And if they are initially successful, they can apply for an additional 1 or 1.5 million USD to create a working prototype.
Cleaning up our waterways
The toilet will even power itself using internally-generated heat, although a small solar panel will be installed on each unit as a backup measure. Holiding tanks of the human fertilizer will only need to be emptied once a month, which completely eradicates the tragic flow of untreated waste into our waterways. (80% of the world’s human waste lands up in our rivers and oceans, according to the paper.)
Again, details of the chemical have not been released, so critics will no doubt question whether they want their poop mixed with some unidentified chemical spread upon their carrots and peas. However, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has financed a select number of humanitarian projects to date, seem prepared to put their trust into this curious innovation.