Human Liquid Waste Disinfection

Human liquid waste disinfection and disposal poses a significant challenge in today's world. In both urban and rural settings, sanitation and effective disposal of sewage is an issue that has not been addressed with the efficacy necessary for healthy and sustainable living conditions. The research team at Duke University's NTF Lab, in conjunction with RTI International is working towards an ingenious solution to this complex and often troublesome problem.

This project of the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge (RTTC) program launched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BGMF) in 2011. The RTTC program follows from the fact that there has been no significant development in the field of toilet design and fecal sludge design since the invention of the flush toilet in the late 18th century. A revolutionary change is needed in this regard to address the problem of urban sanitation and sewage management.

RTI International's design is a standalone toilet unit which does not require piped-in water, a sewer connection or outside electricity. This remarkable solution converts human waste into combustible fuel, stored energy and disinfected, non-potable water.

The research team at Duke University is developing an electrochemical process to disinfect liquid waste - urine as well as liquid removed from solid waste - using carbon electrodes. This disinfected water will be used as a sustainable source of rinse water for the toilet, or, as a fertilizer supplement.