A toilet that doesn't use plumbing, doesn't produce any pollutants and is powered by the sun?
It can be done, and scientists at Caltech in Pasadena just won an international challenge to create the "toilet of tomorrow."
California Institute of Technology engineer Michael Hoffmann and his colleagues won $100,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their self-contained, two-story design, which is meant to address challenges related to water, sanitation and hygiene in developing countries.
The foundation's website notes that nearly 40 percent of the world's population doesn't have access to clean, flush toilets -- which require a lot of infrastructure and fresh water.
The website states: "2.6 billion people don't have a safe and affordable way to poop."
Nearly half of all disease cases in developing countries are caused by unsafe sanitation conditions, according to the United Nations, and some 1.5 million children die each year from diarrheal disease. Many of those deaths and diseases could be prevented by access to safe toilets, experts say.
"We're designing the system for use in the developing world to reduce disease tranmission through improper sanitation," Caltech's Hoffman states in a video about the project.
Read more at NBC Los Angeles.
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