Swiss boffins craft new toilet for world’s poorest

by Malcolm Curtis|The Local, Switzerland|August 15, 2012

Swiss researchers have helped invent an award-winning new toilet for use in places without sanitary facilities, the federal government announced on Wednesday.

The “diversion” toilet needs no sewer and no outside energy source and is cheap to operate.

It was developed by a team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag), based near Zurich, and the Austrian design firm EOSS.

The team beat out submissions from 21 other universities and research facilities to win the “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” set by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The foundation, established by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife, sought designs for toilets that could be part of a recycling system for waste and that would cost no more than five cents per day and per person.

An estimated 2.6 billion people — more than a third of the world’s population — lack access to a decent toilet, a situation that adds to disease and unhealthy living conditions.

The Swiss design team was led by process engineer Tove Larsen, who explained that the award-winning model is a “modern squatting toilet”.

It allows for the separation of urine and has an ingenious seal against odours while using just 1 to 1.5 litres of water for each use.

“This is absolutely decisive for cleaning the toilet, hand washing and the anal hygiene with water practised by Muslims and Hindus,” Larsen said in a news release.

The toilet needs no connection to a water supply.

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About Malcolm Curtis

Freelance English-language communications professional (writing, editing, translations) based near Geneva, Switzerland. Let me know if I can help you.
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