Academic Venture Fund - 2013

A Toilet with Biological Pathogen Control

Outhouse by African farmland

The developing world urgently needs proper sanitation to suppress diseases spread by human waste. Cornell researchers have invented a simple toilet that uses a solar-heated fermentation bag to produce butyric acid—an integrated bioreactor that kills E. coli, parasitic worm eggs, and other pathogens. Treated toilet contents are safe to apply as fertilizer. While continuing to test the technology, the team will survey three Ethiopian communities to establish that the design is culturally acceptable and construction and operating costs sustainable—the next step toward widespread adoption of this innovative toilet.

Investigators: Tammo Steenhuis, David Lee, Fouad Makki, Lars Angenent, Dwight Bowman