Autonomous Beta-Test Toilet Up and Running in India

RTI International, in conjunction with Duke University and Colorado State University, recently installed its beta prototype for a self-contained, off-the-grid toilet system to serve the billions of people worldwide who don’t have access to adequate sanitation.

Part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Reinvent the Toilet” challenge, the beta prototype has many improvements over its older sibling. Enhancements have been made to the liquid processing, liquid-solid separation system, solid mass drying system and combustion chamber. A new process control system was implemented, making the new system much more autonomous than its predecessor.

The new sanitation system was installed at the CEPT University in Ahmedabad, where the original has been collecting data for more than a year. Researchers from all sides hope the new beta version will provide even more data and bring them closer to realizing their goal of providing a self-sufficient sanitation system that people will actually want to use.

“This is the first fully automated test run for our experimental toilet in India, and we’re all very excited,” said Jeff Glass, professor of electrical and computer engineering and mechanical engineering and materials science at Duke, who has led the team responsible for the liquid disinfection technology. “This is a huge milestone for the overall project led by RTI that is very important to all of us that are involved.”