Our Technology

Video showing the toilet system, how it processes the waste, converts the solids into energy and stores this energy to electrochemically treat the liquid waste

Highlights:

  • RTI International is developing a toilet that converts human waste into burnable fuel, stored energy and disinfected, non-potable water
  • Novel waste treatment system could help improve public health and quality of life among people in developing nations
  • The system will not require piped-in water, a sewer connection or outside electricity

RTI’s design will accomplish three primary functions: disinfect liquid waste, dry and burn solid waste, and convert the resulting combustion energy into stored electricity. The system also includes innovations to improve operational utility, energy efficiency and cost.

The solid waste drying process will use a combination of mechanical, solar and thermal energy. A mechanical screw-like device will separate out liquids and begin the process of converting solid waste into combustion fuel. Solar energy, natural drafts and heat from burning waste will further aid the drying process. As it dries, the waste will be broken down into uniform-sized pellets, which will be burned using a novel combustion unit designed by our partners at Colorado State University. This self-powered unit also captures a portion of the heat produced and converts it into electricity.

Liquid waste—including urine and liquid that is removed from the solid waste—will be disinfected through electrochemical processes using carbon electrodes (developed in partnership with Advanced Diamond Technologies, Inc. and Duke University). The disinfected water will be suitable for use as rinse water for the toilet or as a fertilizer supplement.

Solid Waste Drying Process

Technology Updates:

Sustainable Sanitation Alliance Interviews Brian Stoner

March 31, 2014

On March 21, 2014, during the Reinvent the Toilet Fair, Brian Stoner had the pleasure of being interviewed by Elisabeth von Muench from (Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA)) at Taj Palace Hotel in Delhi, India. The two-part interview was filmed by Arno Rosemarin (SEI).

In the first part, Brian introduces our system and in the second part, he walks them through each part of the waste management process, describing the features therein.

Part One:

Part Two:

RTI prepares toilet system for March 2014 fair in Delhi India

January 24, 2014

DelhiFunctionalPrototype

The integrated toilet system with solid waste processing and liquid disinfection modules integrated underneath

RTI prepares its first generation Reinvent the Toilet processing system for the 2014 Toilet Fair in Delhi, India. The system includes a custom-designed squat plate by Roca Sanitario and a self-contained waste treatment system. The open-lid on the right, shows the solid waste combustion unit that exhausts to a stove-pipe running up the right side of the system.

Continue reading →

Roca Sanitario develops ultra low flush squat plate

December 13, 2013

Roca Engineering Team

Roca toilet engineering team with Brian Stoner (RTI) demonstrate novel squat plate

Roca engineers have developed an ultra low-flush squat plate to go with RTI’s toilet processing modules. This novel squat plate is designed to operate with 1.5 liters of water, maintaining an effective water seal and minimizing odors. This latest advancement in toilet technology is an essential part of the strategy to bring effective sanitation to regions that lack sewage infrastructure. The squat plate dispenses into a solid-liquid separator that converts solid waste into burnable fuel and electrochemically disinfects the liquid for flush recycling and non-potable uses.  The video below shows a 1.5 liter laboratory test-flush using simulated specimens.

RTI International receives additional funding from Gates Foundation to advance toilet reinvention.

December 6, 2013

toilet challenge graphic internal design_800
RTI recently received two additional awards from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support our team’s efforts to reinvent the toilet for the developing world.  These awards will enable us to more quickly conduct testing of our system with actual human waste (as opposed to simulant materials) and to build a full prototype unit in partnership with Roca, the largest toilet manufacturer in Europe, who will develop a custom squat plate for the unit.

Below, RTI team members pose after constructing their first integrated toilet system with custom squat plate (designed and manufactured by Roca). The system incorporates an auger-based solid-liquid separation stage followed by solid combustion (pictured in the lower right) and liquid disinfection processing modules.

RTI Toilet Team Members Standing on Prototype Toilet System

See a press release on the new awards here.

Disinfection of Fecal-Contaminated Urine (update)

October 1, 2013

Plated Specimens from Before and After Processing

Plated specimens from before and after electrochemical treatment of fecal-contaminated urine (human)

The first series of tests used 16 liters of human urine mixed with 0.5 %wt of human feces. This represents a significant milestone in demonstrating the liquid disinfection capabilities of the system using actual human-derived specimens. Future tests will focus on evaluating energy consumed during disinfection and further process optimization.

Liquid Processing Team testing with human urine contaminated with human feces

The RTI Liquid Processing Team prepares the system for disinfection tests with human urine and feces.

Collection tank showing fecal-contaminated urine before processing

Collection tanks holding the fecal-contaminated urine before processing.

The baffled collection tanks allow solids to settle and dissolve prior to entering the process module, eliminating the need for prefiltering the liquid before entering the electrochemical cell. Based on preliminary observations, the 0.5% fecal load represents a worst case for fecal contamination in the urine. Future experiments will evaluate nominal and peak-loading scenarios.