Today is the day that solar-powered toilets have become a full-fledged mainstream news item. I guess we can thank the world’s wealthiest philanthropist. Bill Gates just gave a $100,000 cash prize to designers at Caltech who engineered a toilet that employs a solar panel to, as Reuters reports, produce “power for an electrochemical reactor that breaks down feces and urine into hydrogen gas, which can be stored in hydrogen fuel cells.” And that power can be used to keep the toilet’s lights on at night or during rainy days.
Clearly, it’s a hell of a toilet. It’s the sort of self-sustaining loo that Gates and others hope can one day be installed across the developing world, where there are currently 2.6 billion people without access to latrines of any kind. But solar-powered toilets are hardly a novel concept; for years, designers and developers have been striving to build the perfect PV-powered commode. Both Dubai and Portland, OR already boast toilets that run on solar power, and engineers are experimenting with johns that harvest rainwater and boast LED fixtures, too.
See all of the world's solar-thrones at Motherboard.VICE.com.