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Bill Gates Wants to Reinvent the Toilet

This new device would process human waste much differently, especially without the use of water.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, President of the Foundation's Global Development program, said at the AfricaSan3 Conference in Kigali, Rwanda, that the toilet has not been reinvented in centuries and has only reached about 2.6 billion people around the world. The fact that toilets are not available everywhere is causing a monumental sanitary problem that is a catalyst for the development of diseases that are filling half of all hospital beds in developing countries.

Future toilets should not require a significant infrastructure, work without water and recycle human waste to energy sources. For example, waste could be converted into bio fuel, fertilizer and even fresh water. Specifically, Mathews Burwell said that the "Toilet 2.0" could be an electricity generator, a urine-diverting device that recovers clean water on site and function as a production device for minerals and biological charcoal.

The grant is part of a $41.5 million investment in water, sanitation and hygiene, the Foundation said.