The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet competition has funded the development of a number of different approaches to dealing with human waste. Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering has received a grant of $1.18 million to build a system that is very different from last year’s winner.
The Duke team doesn’t really reinvent the toilet at all, but reinvents sewage treatment by packing a very sophisticated processing system into a 20 foot shipping container. In many communities, people empty their latrines into the nearest river; with the Duke system, they either have their cisterns pumped or they carry it to the container. It can handle the waste of a community of 1200 people.