Concentrated solar energy scorches human feces with 700 degree heat.
Sol-Char Toilet, created by researchers at the University of Colorado, proves that human waste is anything but useless. Powered by the sun, it transforms excrement into biochar, a material that can be used as fertilizer or fuel. Biochar is not only an ideal fertilizer, but it can help to reduce pressure on the world’s finite natural resources.
The device uses a combination of parabolic mirrors inside fiberoptic cables to concentrate the sun’s energy on a single point, which in turn creates heat of up to 700 degree fahrenheit. This heat is used to scorch and sterilize human waste, which leaves behind a charcoal-like substance that is much easier to transport and put to use on farms around the world.
“We are doing something that has never been done before,” said Karl Linden, the team’s lead scientist, on the school’s website. “While the idea of concentrating solar energy is not new, transmitting it flexibly to a customizable location via fiber-optic cables is the really unique aspect of this project.”
Sol-Char toilet was created as part of the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge run by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the aim of which is to “develop waterless, hygienic toilets that do not require a sewer connection or electricity and cost less than five cents per user per day.”
It might not have the same sex-appeal as wearable technology and other cutting-edge technological developments, but the Sol-Char Toilet’s impact will almost definitely last a lot longer than the latest fitness tracker.