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Future Tech: 

This toilet turns its contents into drinking water and energy

We wouldn't recommend slicing your Nano Membrane Toilet in two, but this is what you'd find...

We wouldn’t recommend slicing your Nano Membrane Toilet in two, but this is what you’d find…

Toilets are pretty wasteful, really, if you’ll excuse the pun. In our eagerness to get our excretions far away from us as quickly as possible, nobody really stopped to think ‘wait, isn’t there a better way?’ Well now they have, thanks to a project at Cranfield University, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Meet the Nano Membrane Toilet. It’s a low-cost, high efficiency toilet that will turn your urine into drinkable water, and your feces into raw energy, leaving just a small pile of ash to show you were ever there. And even that can be used as fertilizer in fields, ensuring literally nothing is wasted.

How much energy will the Nano Membrane Toilet produce, exactly? Not much – enough to power the toilet itself, with a little left over for powering mobile phones or “other low voltage items”, which would be useful if you’re concerned that your smartphone might not make it until you find a power outlet.

Except, it’s not intended for you and your crippling mobile Minecraft addiction. “The nano membrane toilet is a project that looks to serve the needs of people in developing countries to stop a major spread of diseases, which is inadequate sanitation,” Jake Larrson, a PhD student at Cranfield told Engineering & Technology Magazine.

“It is very diverse. Not only it is for developing countries, but it’s also useful for developed countries, maybe for the military, they’re always in desolate places, or for the construction industry or even for yachts,” he added.

So, how does it work? After finishing up, the user closes the lid and the cleaning process begins. The toilet contains a sweeping mechanism to split liquids from solids, and the bowl rotates pushing the waste into a holding tank. The waste is sealed off behind an odor barrier, which does exactly what you’d imagine it does (don’t make us explain), and the solids move to a gasifier, where they’re burned off to produce power.

The team hope the toilets will be field tested some time next year, but for more information watch the video below.

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