After conquering the world with his Windows operating system and making the computer a consumer item, Bill Gates has a new challenge: to democratize hygiene. The co-founder of Microsoft, now a billionaire philanthropist, wants to invent the toilets of the future. He has invested 5.3 million euros in this project which could affect 7 billion people on Earth.
At a fair on this theme on Tuesday 14 August in Seattle, USA, his foundation therefore awarded three projects. The first prize went to the California Institute of Technology, for a solar-powered toilet that produces hydrogen and electricity from the decomposition of faeces and urine, says the foundation. the Chicago Tribune. These toilets are buried in the ground, and the recovered water is pumped back to flush the toilet.
The second prize went to Loughborough English University for a toilet that recycles excreta into coal, minerals and water. The third prize went to the Canadian University of Toronto for a similar invention.
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It is no coincidence that Bill Gates chose the cabinets, an invention that has not evolved since the first patent was filed in 1775, according to the pioneer of microcomputing. The aim is to improve sanitary conditions in poor countries by providing toilets for the 2.6 billion people who do not have access to them. These new toilets, without flushing, must therefore avoid wasting drinking water and include systems for recycling excreta.
"The flush toilets we have in our rich countries are impossible to use for 40 % of the world's population, because these people often have no access to water, sewage, electricity or waste treatment systems. Beyond the issue of human dignity, lack of access to toilets endangers the lives of many people, creates an economic and public health burden for poor communities, and defiles the environment", explains Bill Gates on his website.
(Article published on bigbrowser.blog.lemonde.fr - August 15, 2012)