Solar-powered Toilet Researchers At Caltech Receive Support From Kohler Co.

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Engineering students and a professor at Caltech are receiving support from kitchen and bathroom technology leader Kohler Co. founded in 1873. In 2012, the students won the “Reinventing the Toilet Challenge” which was put on by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They won with a self-contained water purification and disinfection system which does not require disposal of waste water. The prize from the foundation was $100,000 to help continue their work.

“It is exciting and certainly an honor for us to work with the Caltech team, who are true pioneers of their time. Kohler is known for pioneering innovative products and helping to advance technology, and through the Gates Foundation challenge, we get the opportunity to support others in their efforts to push traditional systems to a new level,” said Rob Zimmerman, Kohler Co. sustainability marketing manager.  (Source: PRNewswire)

While talk of a solar-powered self-contained toilet might sound silly to some, there are many people living in areas without proper sanitation. About 1.5 million children die each year from food and water contaminated with fecal matter.

“Without proper sanitation facilities, waste from infected individuals can contaminate a community’s land and water, increasing the risk of infection for other individuals. Proper waste disposal can slow the infection cycle of many disease-causing agents.” (Source: CDC)

Some schools are lacking in proper sanitation, which demotivates girls from attending. Lacking education from an early phase in life puts them at a severe disadvantage for jobs later. If they can’t find decent work as adults, they may remain in the cycle of poverty.

Proper sanitation could help prevent many deaths around the world each year.

“An estimated 801,000 children younger than 5 years of age perish from diarrhea each year, mostly in developing countries. This amounts to 11% of the 7.6 million deaths of children under the age of five and means that about 2,200 children are dying every day as a result of diarrheal diseases.” (Source: CDC)

Improved sanitation technology could prevent a tremendous amount of illness and death, so this solar-powered toilet could be a great breakthrough.


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