After placing third in the “Reinventing the Toilet Challenge” started by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in response to the lack of basic sanitation services for 2.6 billion people worldwide, a University of Toronto engineering team has received a $2.2 million grant from the foundation to further develop a waterless, hygienic toilet.

Led by Professor Yu-Ling Cheng, director of the Centre for Global Engineering, the team’s toilet drops waste onto a hand-operated belt that separates the liquid and the solids into two streams. Ultraviolet light then disinfects the liquid so that it can be used in agriculture while the solid waste, once flattened and dried out, is incinerated in a special combustion chamber that does not require flames. The grant money will be used to further simplify the mechanical process and minimize odour.

The team, in addition to Cheng and professors from the University of Queensland and Western University, includes engineering professors Mark Kortschot, Elizabeth Edwards, Yuri Lawryshyn, and Levente Diosady, PhD candidate Tiffany Jung, and research associate Zachary Fishman. Working with local partners, Cheng’s team plans to have an operational prototype in Bangladesh by December 2013.

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