It is needless to explain how a toilet is important in an individual’s life. It is a need that has always existed and will always do. But despite it being a basic human right, it is still considered a luxury in some cities and urban towns. Around a third of the world’s population have no access to toilets, leading them to defecate in public, which results in health and social issues, as well as other environmental implications. In this article, we will list five innovative “toilets” that can become the solution of the worldwide toilet problem.

Peepoo Toilet Bags

The Peepoo bag (Peepoo)

The Peepoo bag (Peepoo)

For the lowest-income, no-access- to-sanitation neighborhoods, Peepoo comes as a basic and affordable solution. Peepoo is a small biodegradable single-use bag for men and women that can turn any human waste into pathogen-free fertilizer.

“The self-sanitization in Peepoo is based on urea, the most common nitrogen fertilizer in the world and a non-hazardous chemical,” Peepoo’s official website says. “When the urea comes into contact with feces and urine a breakdown into ammonia and carbonate takes place, driven by enzymes naturally occurring in feces.”

After each personal usage, the bag can be buried into the ground and it disintegrates, allowing plants to absorb the useful ammonia without harming the environment.

L’ Uritonnoir

L’ Uritonnoir (L’ Uritonnoir website)

L’ Uritonnoir (L’ Uritonnoir website)

Put a urinal “urinoir” and a funnel “entonnoir” together and you have the Uritonnoir, a French noun that describes a new generation of public toilets for men. The Unitonnoir, invented by French company Faltazi, can be installed in public and private gardens as well as festivals, campsites and other public places.

“A bale of straw is used as the stand,” the company says. “The spike on the end is inserted into the straw and then secured with a strap that wraps around the entire bale. Depending on the size of the bale, you can add as many Uritonnoirs as you need.”

The urine, which contains a substantial amount of nitrogen converts the straw, which contains carbon, into composted humus. According to L’Uritonnoir, the hay conversion process happens over six to 12 months. The inventing company said that the width of the bales of hay is installed in a manner that acts an odor inhibitor and that human waste is dealt with in a safe and hygienic way.

India’s Green Toilets

India's green toilet (by Sahej Mantri on Linkedin)

India’s green toilet (by Sahej Mantri on Linkedin)

More high-tech public toilets include two prototypes of  bio-toilets introduced to India. The country suffers from a notable sanitation problem with almost half of its population defecating in public.  The problem has evolved beyond the issue of sanitation with children going missing and women getting raped. These toilets will allow commuters of both genders to answer the call of nature in a private place while benefiting the environment.

The prototypes toilets, which are made of refitted cargo, have enough space to serve the general public, the Better India reported. The self-sustaining toilets can turn human waste to non-contaminating water through the application of bacteria. The toilets are also equipped with solar panels to provide them with needed electricity. Government body Thane Municipal Corporation formed a partnership with social organization Agasti to construct the toilet.

“The roof of the Restroom is made up of polycarbonate sheets which allow natural sunlight to come in,” founder of Agasti Sahej Mantri says on social media website Linkedin, explaining that “natural lighting reduces the production of harmful bacteria and organisms and is recognized as a natural disinfectant.”

“We are reducing the reliance on fresh water supply and recycling water to be used for gardening and in the flush tanks,” he adds. “We do it through installing Biodigester tanks are used in almost all toilets. It also means there is no downtime with the need to clean septic tanks.”

The prototypes were installed in Teen Haath Naka, one of Mumbai’s busiest areas, to test the public’s response. One of the prototypes will be free for the general public while the other will cost 5 Indian Rupees (US $0.07) and will be exclusive to women. If found successful, 12 toilet models will be installed in Mumbai’s Eastern Express Highway (EEH).

Sol-Char Toilet

The lab-designed Sol-Char toilet (Sol-Char)

The lab-designed Sol-Char toilet (Sol-Char)

Further  innovations include a water-less, self-sustained toilet was developed by a team of researchers at the University of Colorado named the Sol-Char. After receiving funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the team led by Dr. Karl Linden sought to develop affordable toilet that can operate off the grid without water pipes or sewage.

The toilet treats human waste into char, a product that can be used as fuel or as a soil fertilizer, using concentrated solar power (CSP). CSPs are designed circular rings of solar mirrors or lenses. The using concentrated light is then transmitted to the reactor via flexible fiber optic cables, which is a new application to the CSP, to a unit which can generate electricity even when the sun is not shining.

“Within the Sol-Char system, parabolic dishes concentrate sunlight; fiber optic bundles then deliver that light energy to heat the reaction chamber which transforms the fecal material into char,” Sol-Char site reads. “The char can be used as a solid fuel or soil amendment. Urine, once it has been thermally treated by the system for safe handling, can be used as a nitrogen rich fertilizer.

According to the Sol-Char website, the team is exploring with the “field pilot.” The field pilot will have a durability from 20 to 30 years and will include an “off-the-shelf automotive fiber optic technology reduces cost/power by a factor of 10” and “continuous waste processing system.”

The toilet will also provide up to 15 kilowatt hours of electricity as backup for cloudy days.

The Nano Membrane Toilet

 

Also backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Nano Membrane toilet is perhaps the most advanced in this list. Like the previous toilet, this one is also self-sustainable and doesn’t need water function. The toilet, which is under development by Cranfield University in the UK, can serve up to a family of 10. A rotating mechanism is used to transfer human waste without water while blocking bad odor.

The liquid and solar human wastes are separated using sedimentation and low glass transition temperature hollow-fiber membranes. These membranes will transform liquid human waste into a vapor state and also for the reuse of the water in “washing or irrigation.” Solid waste is will be covered in wax to cover up its odor and then it will be scientifically converted into “ashes and energy” when it is transferred to the thermo-processing facility.

“Following release of unbound water, the residual solids are transported by mechanical screw into a gasifier which will convert them into ash and energy,” the toilet’s website states. “The energy will power the membrane processes, and there may be extra energy for charging mobile phones or other low voltage items.”

The water functions on rechargeable batteries than can be replaced with new ones or recharged using a hand paddle.