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Bill Gates' magical toilet ... um...

 
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(gosh I hope this is in the right forum)

So this article popped up on one of my mom facebook groups (I don't even know why). Pretty much gushing over how Bill Gates is 'inventing' a toilet that "Transforms Waste Into Fertilizer, Doesn't Require Water or Sewers "


https://www.ecowatch.com/bill-gates-foundation-toilet-2618322513.html?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=08698bd998-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-08698bd998-86129713&fbclid=IwAR2xEs8T6CsYgSQa0CUkoxQPxH8cgxua3-8K7dULM35ScV3GHhKoVQIod5c

ummmm

"The billionaire philanthropist kicked off the Reinvented Toilet Expo in China and unveiled a new toilet that does not require water or sewers, and uses chemicals to turn human waste into fertilizer, Reuters reported. "

"improve sanitation for countries that do not have or cannot afford to build the sewer infrastructure to remove waste. "

Of course, being into the permies culture I had already looked into these kind of toilets and well.. I think we all know the answer to that.

I think it would be cheaper to invest in education on how to handle waste then to make these complex toilets.

Here's a much more detailed (click bait styled) video that goes over the tech itself.



So you can see the set up in Gana runs on solar panels XD

Yeah I guess Gates' is doing charity to set up and supply these resourced to countries in need but he is in NO WAY reinventing the toilet like all these people are gushing over

Can I get an eye roll ?
 
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Location: Romania
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Its a big failure of an over engineered toilet that polutes a lot because its burning the solids and the filter for liquids its just a reverse osmosis membrane wich probably will have a short life and need to be replaced at least once a year.The cost of the manufacturing of the membranes and the cost of the electricity consumed ( i guess its burns the solids with electric power) will make it soo poluting that i think it should be banned by the enviromental agencyes.
 
gardener
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Netflix has a show called 'Inside Bill's Brain' or something like that, and one of the episodes goes into detail about this. The Gates foundation created a project asking teams to come up with a "better toilet", where a water-based sewer system isn't used, and it avoids open pits or sewage in drinking water (which is the 2 most common setups in the target countries, which can't afford to use the western water based system, which is also not viable world wide. Gates wanted a system that was affordable and could be easily maintained. From what I recall, it uses dried waste as fuel to cook the fresh waste to kill pathogens and dehydrate this next wave of fuel in the system. There were several designs that also used solar power for drying/ventilating the stalls. More parts that could break than a pit latrine, but every system has issues when there are too many people in a fixed area trying to use it. Big cities will never have a long-term, environmentally viable system that is affordable around the world.
 
Mihai Ilie
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I wonder what Joerg Sprave will invent next in order to
convince Bill Gates to finance him.Last it was the condom aplicator.

 
master pollinator
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Engineering fail, Bill.  KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
 
pollinator
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I will put that show on my watch list.

I think a retort-style pyrolising toilet powered by a rocketstove would probably be the most sustainable move for areas for which squatting in an irrigation ditch, open-pit latrine, or even outhouse is the current go-to solution.

I give you the rocketpyrolisis toilet.

Using the KISS principle, the rocketstove gets built into a masonry or cob toilet with a drum retort and a spring-loaded catchbasin flap that drops whatever dry biomass is available to chop up and fill a hopper. The biomass catches contributions and absorbs liquid. The flush simply deposits more biomass, then drops the contents into the drum, closes the flap, and deposits more biomass for the next use.

Meanwhile, a gravity-fed J-tube just large enough in diameter to do the job is fed every time the toilet is used, bringing the contents up to temperature in an oxygen-deprived environment, with one-way valved vents blowing volatiles back into the combustion area.

Regular cleanouts would involve a slightly higher, longer firing before allowing the retort to cool to remove and empty it, but would turn a source of human disease and nutrient pollution that causes eutrophication in waterways into biochar.

And you make it with a repurposed metal drum and whatever non-combustible, durable building material is readily available. And it's essentially powered by a high-temperature incinerator, so while such a development might require more engineering to be truly dioxin-safe, waste plastics could be turned into fuel in a situation that removes them completely from the biosphere (relevant because of the volume of plastic in areas where rocketpyrolysis toilets would be most readily adopted).

But then there's no fancy materials- or process-intensive pieces to employ people, or to turn into water security for people who can pay to remove pollution from their tapwater, or what have you. Just dirt and fire.

It reminds me of when they finally, after twenty years of engineering, designed a space toilet that worked in microgravity. Twenty years. One would have thought it easier to design and build a tether-based station that generated its own artificial gravity, like O'Neill Stations. Hell, twenty years? If we tried, we could build O'Neill Stations in orbit out of asteroids and space junk. Twenty years for a space toilet...

Twenty years for a space toilet, and they're still talking about the negative effects of microgravity on organisms that depend upon it for proper development.

KISS principle. Nothing finer.

-CK
 
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Watched a show on the history of toilets and they had a segment on areas of the third world where open defecation is common and the inherent sanitation issues (feces in your lunch anyone?) were resulting in child deaths. One solution they came up with is a diy concrete ring installed in a cess pit and a cover over it that has the simple toilet inserted into it. Once the pit is full the ring can be pulled out and moved to a new pit.

“The SaTo pan (pronounced SAH-toh) is a cheap innovation designed for poor households and is supported by the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation. The SaTo pan model uses a simple trap door design that forms a water seal at the bottom of a pan set into a cement slab over the pit. The water seal reduces transmission of disease by insects, reduces odor and reduces the volume of water needed to flush.”

Edited to add link to the video: The Toilet: An Unspoken History
 
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Pam Maz wrote:
Can I get an eye roll ?



I'm with you on that! [I failed to upload an eye-rolling gif, but I wanted to!]

I live in a region where composting toilets were traditional, and were historically of the most "keep-it-simple-stupid" type imaginable. I've seen friends of mine try to "improve" on them with urine separation pans (FAIL!!!) or barrels (FAIL!!!). Composting toilets are already super widespread and tried and true. If electricity and moving parts are not suitable, they take a bit more space, in order to have alternating year chambers. If electricity and moving parts are possible, they can be fit into much smaller spaces.
 
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These countries where Gates is trying to solve the waste problem are very poor and have cesspools everywhere.  Wastewater literally is dumped into the rivers not far from where others are getting thier drinking water.  Not surprising that diseases are out of control.  

Anything will help, but it has to be affordable for the locals or they can't do it.
 
pollinator
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I've read all three of Carol Steinfeld's books on waste management.  

The Composting Toilet System Book was her first, and it is basically a buyer's guide to the choices available to homeowners in 2000, when it was published.
It covers the range of technologies and products that are available.  One page devoted to bucket collection ala The Humanure Handbook.  Also has some examples and information about greywater treatment systems.  This is meant to expose the reader to the full spectrum, so it doesn't offer in-depth information about any of the systems.  Still interesting.

Her 2004 book, Liquid Gold: The Lore and Logic of Using Urine to Grow Plants, spells out the ridiculousness of flushing human liquid wastes through wastewater treatment- being a hazard to the environment and costing money (and clean water!) to neutralize while farmers are paying for nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers produced with imported energy.  It discusses old and new techniques to recover this resource safely and productively. Programs in Sweden, Denmark, Wales, Nepal and Mexico are on the cutting edge. A sustainable future may include peeing into new containers rather than a bowl of water.  Photo examples of plant growth using urine as fertilizer are compelling, and safety concerns are included.

Her 2007 survey, Reusing the Resource: Adventures in Ecological Wastewater Recycling, is much more ambitious.  Here, she collects in one place a huge variety of current systems of managing wastewater, from residential to municipal to industrial.  Though not exhaustive, it covers systems from around the globe, and offers a brief understanding of the importance of the trend to managing our wastewaters more organically.  Enlightening and hopeful.  

I recommend all three, but especially the third one.

Here's her homepage: https://carol-steinfeld.com/

And her Liquid Gold site: http://www.liquidgoldbook.com/

 
Ruth Meyers
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Rick Martin wrote:These countries where Gates is trying to solve the waste problem are very poor and have cesspools everywhere.  Wastewater literally is dumped into the rivers not far from where others are getting thier drinking water.  Not surprising that diseases are out of control.  

Anything will help, but it has to be affordable for the locals or they can't do it.



It was Rick's comment that had me searching my reading records, and I think the title I was reaching for today is The Big Necessity : the unmentionable world of human waste and why it matters.  I had followed up on my other reading with this one, and at first missed what the author was documenting - the sociology of poop disposal in various cultures.

Rose George travels the world to learn about what is and isn't available to people. What she finds is often disgusting, and would have us "civilized" types cringing in horror. All the same, many of the people she meets and speaks with have no choice in the matter. When you have to go, you have to go, and you have to make do with what's available.

In her travels she sees everything from people going at the side of the road to people using "high tech" toilets that use a minimum of water and do more than just dispose of human waste. She learns about how various countries are working to deal with the problem of disposing of human waste, and what's often involved in trying to change peoples habits.

 
pioneer
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Bill Gates and his products known for crashing... NOT a good combo, here!

Reminds me of an old gag product by google - toilet-based broadband
.  "When things go wrong, they go very, very wrong. Let's leave it at that."
 
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Ruth Meyers wrote:

I had followed up on my other reading with this one, and at first missed what the author was documenting - the sociology of poop disposal in various cultures.

I think this is a *very* important factor in the equation and with the issues of an increasing number of displaced persons on the planet, the whole issue of not just safe "disposal" of urine and excrement, but genuinely safe, easy to access and emplace, systems to recapture the nutrients we excrete particularly following natural disasters like earthquakes or hurricanes when people are more concerned with getting through the day than on polluting the local drinking water supply.

It is way too easy for people in safe, secure homes, to miss how insecure many humans feel just managing basic care with no money or resources to spare to come up with a better system.
 
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