Toilets Of The Future: Bill Gates Says "Now"

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This summer an article was published from the Kansas City Star that tells us Bill Gates is setting his sights on world sanitation.

According to the Star, 2.6 billion people on our planet do not have human waste sanitation outfitted with a pipe water supply or sewer system. If you did not know, this means that forty percent of the people in our planet do not have the ability to use a toilet, and because of unsanitary waste conditions that result from this lack of sanitation over 1.5 million children in developing countries die every year.

Bill and Melinda Gates, who have already been working on a vaccine for malaria for over half a decade, are trying to redesign the toilet now, and they have given grants to universities to find a toilet that requires no pipe system, water, or electricity, and that can operate for less than five cents a day. Next summer we will hopefully be covering his challenge on Poop Report, as he has given the money to these eight schools to participate in the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge.

Already working on a design is the team from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). This awesome group of geeks (and I use the term in the best way possible) have begun to devise a solar-powered toilet that would harness daylight to break down poop instead of bacteria, which is what breaks waste down in compost piles.

The kicker in the article for me was what Delft University of Technology was cooking, a center of higher learning located in the Netherlands. These brainiacs are working on a microwave system, one that would convert our poop into “synthetic gas and electricity”. Wow. Microwavable poop.

This article got me thinking about the humble dunny. The modern bog is a wonderful bit of gear. A trip to your local hardware superstore will show that they come in all kinds of colours, shapes and sizes, but essentially they all work on the same principle: i.e. they take your poo – plus a fair volume of perfectly good, clean drinking-quality water – and send it down a network of pipes to a treatment plant, which then filters the solids, treats it with various chemicals, filters it some more, and depending on the location of the treatment plant, either processes the by-products further or pumps it all out to the sea.

The ideas in the article offer sensible alternatives to the wasteful (no pun intended) setup that we have at the moment.

A microwave toilet.

Compare a blacksmith's forge to a blast furnace at a steel mill. While they both do essentially the same job, the blast furnace does it on a scale of tens of thousands to one. Now, apply the same thinking to a microwave oven big enough to microwave the poo of tens of thousands of people.

I imagine a massive facility that looks like the world's biggest kitchen, and taking pride of place is a gargantuan white metal box with a glass door. All is quiet, save for the rumbling of the world's biggest magnetron, then the rumbling stops and a giant bell gives off a single “ding!”.

On opening the glass door after the time goes off, we see the world's biggest rotating platter and a pile of smoldering ash, a mountain of once-poop that is ready to be removed and turned into God-knows-what.

A team of workers with brooms climbs in and sweep the poop ash onto a conveyor belt while other teams of people stand by with bobcats and front-end-loaders, the buckets of which are filled with fresh poo, all waiting for the next cycle.

...what? The idea is for individual homes to be fitted with these units?

Oh, I see. It’s not that the poo is to be pumped to a facility, it’s that each home will have its own little microwave oven. Maybe the home owner can dial in the amount of microwave energy required. Maybe a chart hangs on the toilet wall with suggested times for “processing”, depending on what the person ate previously.

Would the user be expected to stay in the toilet until the timer goes “ding”?

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22 Comments on "Toilets Of The Future: Bill Gates Says "Now""

prarie doggin's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Quality Moderatorg 4000+ points

What the hell. I already have a perfectly good microwave. It can certainly pull double duty. My only concern would be the mess if the corn starts popping.

ChiefThunderbutt's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatorf 5000+ points

My wife already gives me hell for farting in the kitchen, I imagine she would be truly outraged if she saw me shitting in the microwave.

If I had two faces do you think I'd be wearing this one?

prarie doggin's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Quality Moderatorg 4000+ points

Women are very delicate Chief. You need to ease her into it. Try shitting in the dishwasher first.

ChiefThunderbutt's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatorf 5000+ points

She would probably try to make a big deal out of something as innocent as that PD. Maybe I should just start out taking dumps in the kitchen trash can.

If I had two faces do you think I'd be wearing this one?

prarie doggin's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Quality Moderatorg 4000+ points

I certainly hope BM isn't offended by the disgusting turn this thread has taken. Who the hell started this mess anyway.

Oh.....nevermind

ChiefThunderbutt's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatorf 5000+ points

PD, My theory is that a man who mixes scotch and coke couldn't possibly be disgusted by anything.

By the way Mullet, this story was a masterpiece which gave me several laugh out loud episodes. I eagerly await your next submission.

If I had two faces do you think I'd be wearing this one?

runninggrrl2's picture
Comment Quality Moderatork 500+ points

Well, microwaving your poop would definitely kill any bacteria in it, rendering it harmless. Just be sure you use microwave-safe plastic. You don't want a melted, plastic and poo mess oozing out of the microwave, do you?

An apple a day keeps the ExLax away!

prarie doggin's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Quality Moderatorg 4000+ points

Good advice there runny. I think I'll just stick to a cookie sheet and my good old convection oven. I just hope the exhaust fan is working.

ChiefThunderbutt's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatorf 5000+ points

I may go for a Chinese inspired wok type disposal. I thing the addition of garlic, ginger, and sesame oil would make it a rather stimulating olfactory experience. An "egg poo young" type aroma.

If I had two faces do you think I'd be wearing this one?

MSG's picture
Comment Quality Moderatori 2000+ points

Almost 30 years ago I was a Realtor in Hampton Roads, VA, and heard a tale of an instrument called the Destroilet, which used a single strong jolt of electricity to burn up turds. A rival real estate company installed one of these in a new homes site which as yet did not have city sewer. One day a customer went out to the Destroilet, did his business, flushed, and had a heart attack (survived) when the electric flush made a huge BOOM and a flash. Never got to use a Destroilet; but that one use became famous.

ChiefThunderbutt's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatorf 5000+ points

I can imagine the humanity if the Destroilet went off prematurely while you were still seated. Your cheeseoids and hot dog could end up grilled.

If I had two faces do you think I'd be wearing this one?

Anonymous's picture

All I can say is that water, electricity and my junk will never be in the same vicinity if I have any say about it. Maybe that's how Cheez Puffs were invented.

prarie doggin's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Quality Moderatorg 4000+ points

"Water, electricity and my junk will never be in the same vicinity if I have any say about it."

And don't any of you AC's out there try and plagiarise any of my quotes.

Anonymous's picture

Maybe the problem is not too few terlets but too many 3rd world populations reproducing at irresponsibly high rates. If not for disease they would likely just breed themselves into famine. Well that's a depressing thought.

the thin brown line's picture
j 1000+ points

Yo...moderators...what happened to my anon comment.. Took me 30 minutes to write from my iPhone...and has/had a signature...not worthy? Lest the commentors have a say..what a subversive notion. And where's Bilgepump to act as my advocate...Hehe!

Somethin' mysterious made an exit from the gift shop.

daphne's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardSite AdminComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatore 6000+ points

I hope that you remember your comment the next time any of the senators or governors you vote for are the ones that boycott spreading birth control in third-world countries. Do something on the ground level.

.....hugging bunnies since 1969
www.daphneszoo.com

daphne's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardSite AdminComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatore 6000+ points

Hey! You need to write about this in depth for our amusement! I performed a quick search on the Destroilet and found it to be a riot of a premise. Please tell us more!

.....hugging bunnies since 1969
www.daphneszoo.com

Anonymous's picture

You're a lucky man ttbl. It usually takes me over 90 minutes including 3 or 4 mad dashes into traffic to retrieve my phone after throwing it in front of a bus. I also sent an anon comment that did not surface, thus the warning at the end of my last comment.

Bilgepump is not available to act as your advocate, so I'll take you under my wing and nurture you for now. Now get back to typing you lazy bastard.

Anonymous's picture

Uh, I hate to burst your bubble of security, but have you ever heard of a roboflusher? In some cases you've got 220v going right to the water supply for your crapper.

Anonymous's picture

That's an interesting notion. Tomorrow I'm going to take a dump in a soup bowl and stuff it in the microwave in the office. My co-workers, I'm sure, will be very curious about my efforts to preserve potable water.

daphne's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardSite AdminComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatore 6000+ points

Snooty pants.

.....hugging bunnies since 1969
www.daphneszoo.com

ChiefThunderbutt's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatorf 5000+ points

I could be wrong, but probably not. I think the electricity in the auto flusher only goes to the electronic eye that watches for your ass to rise from the seat and is no closer to the water supply of the commode than the power that goes to the light that illuminates the area.

If I had two faces do you think I'd be wearing this one?

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