This new high-tech toilet could produce clean drinking water and charge your phone

In the future of toilet technology, your loo could be self-powered, recycle waste into water and even charge your mobile phone.

The “nano membrane toilet” is being developed with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and aims to help bring sanitation into the homes of 2.5 billion people still living without it in developing countries – without needing water supplies or sewage pipes.

However, the team at Cranfield University say it could also be used in the developed world too in a huge range of situations – from luxury yachts to an odour-free alternative to stinky music festival portaloos.

PhD student Jake Larsson, one of the team working on the project, said: “The nano membrane toilet is a project that looks to serve the needs of people in developing countries to stop a major spread of disease, which is inadequate sanitation.

“It is a household scale toilet that produces clean water and manageable, pathogen-free, disposable waste, it’s self-standing, it’s small enough to fit in someone’s home and there’s even a little bit of energy left over to charge a mobile phone.

“It is very diverse. Not only is it 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.

“The applications are endless and the need is also there.”

The high-tech toilet gets rid of any unfortunate odours by passing the waste into a separate holding tank. In the tank a “nano membrane” filters water from solid waste and pathogens which are too large to pass through.

The clever loo produces water which is clean enough for washing, cleaning and could be made pure enough to drink. Solid waste is transported to a gasifier, where it’s burned, creating enough energy to power the unit. There’s a little bit of left over energy too which could, in theory, charge your phone.

The Cranfield University team aims to start field testing the toilet in 2016, with a business model that will see communities renting the toilet for less than 5 US cents per user per day from a local franchisee who will be responsible for maintaining the units.

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