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Bill Gates and his passion for reinventing the toilet

CalTech won “Reinvent the toilet Fair” prize for solar powered toilet

By Layer 8 on Wed, 08/15/12 - 11:19am.

caltech's toietIt may come as a surprise to many people that iconic Bill Gates would take something as perhaps more iconic than he - the toilet - so seriously.  But he certainly does and for good reason: Many people in the world don't have access to flush toilets and do not have access to basic sanitation services.

Gates and his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation this week held the "Reinvent the Toilet Fair," in Seattle, where the man who co-founded software giant Microsoft awarded prizes to teams that came up with the best notion for changing the world's toilet technology.

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From Gates' blog post on the Fair: "The winners included: first place to California Institute of Technology in the United States for designing a solar-powered toilet that generates hydrogen and electricity, second place to Loughborough University in the United Kingdom for a toilet that produces biological charcoal, minerals, and clean water, and third place to University of Toronto in Canada for a toilet that sanitizes feces and urine and recovers resources and clean water. A special recognition was awarded to Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology) and EOOS for their outstanding design of a toilet user-interface."

The foundation also announced $3.4 million in new toilet research funding bringing total investment in its "Reinvent the Toilet Challenge" to about $6.5 million.

MORE: 20 high-tech toilets

Gates also noted: "The flush toilets we use in the wealthy world are irrelevant, impractical and impossible for 40 percent of the global population, because they often don't have access to water, and sewers, electricity, and sewage treatment systems. Worldwide, there are 2.5 billion people without access to safe sanitation-including 1 billion people who still defecate out in the open and more than 1 billion others who must use pit latrines."

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