NEW DELHI— RTI International recently demonstrated its new, innovative on-site waste treatment and toilet prototype that processes, recycles and disinfects human waste at the Reinvent the Toilet Fair: India March 21-22 in New Delhi.
The Reinvent the Toilet Fair: India aimed to stimulate discussion and spur partnerships to improve global sanitation and bring affordable sanitation solutions to people who need it most. The fair was also an opportunity to recognize India’s leadership and commitment to improving child health and fostering innovative solutions to persistent development challenges.
The event was co-hosted by the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and supported by the Indian Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Ministry of Urban Development.
In 2012, RTI, in partnership with Duke University and Colorado State University, received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Reinvent the Toilet Challenge to develop an on-site waste treatment system and toilet that does not require sewer, water, or electricity infrastructure and will help to improve sanitation in the developing world. The new waste treatment system is designed to disinfect human liquid waste, dry and burn human solid waste and convert the resulting combustion energy into stored electricity, all at a cost of less than 5 cents (U.S.) per user per day. The project received additional funding in 2013 to further develop and transition the prototype system for field testing in India in 2014-2015.
“Waste-borne illnesses are a critical public health issue in the developing world, especially in India where children are at high-risk of diarrheal disease,” said Brian Stoner, Ph.D., senior fellow in materials and electronic technologies at RTI and the project’s principal investigator. “Our prototype is designed to provide a cost-effective, totally off-grid sanitation solution that will not require access to water, electricity, or a sewer system.”
A new human waste system could significantly impact the livelihood of the more than 2.5 billion people worldwide who do not have access to safe and effective sanitation. In India, diarrheal disease is estimated to kill one child per minute.
“Of the 1.1 billion people who defecate in the open, almost 60 percent are Indian,” said Professor K. Vijay Raghavan, secretary of the Indian Department of Biotechnology. “Sanitation solutions using the latest technology need not be complex or driven by expensive gadgetry, but they need to be innovative and address the many aspects of this multifaceted problem.”
The Reinvent the Toilet Fair: India included participants from more than 40 countries, including researchers, government officials and other local and international partners.