The Nano Membrane Toilet (Cranfield University, UK) - latest results and publications since 2016


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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Waterless Toilet that Turns Fecal Matter into Clean Water and Power

Waterless Toilet that Turns Fecal Matter into Clean Water and Power

Cranfield University, UK has designed a toilet turns human waste into electricity and clean water. It has been called as the Nano Membrane Toilet. Cranfield University says that this new approach to managing waste could help some of the world's 2.3 billion people who have no access to safe, hygienic toilets.

How does the toilet works? The post says:
( )

The toilet's magic happens when you close the lid. The bottom of the bowl uses a rotation mechanism to sweep the waste into a sedimentation chamber, which helps block any odors from escaping. The waste is then filtered through a special nanotech membrane, which separates vaporized water molecules from the rest of the waste, helping to prevent pathogens and solids from being carried further by the water.

The vaporized water then travels through to a chamber filled with "nano-coated hydrophilic beads", which helps the water vapor condense and fall into a collection area below. This water is pure enough to be used for household washing and farm irrigation.

The residual solid waste and pathogens are driven by an archimedean screw into a second chamber. This part of the design is still being finalized, but the current plan is for the solid waste to be incinerated to convert it into ash and energy. The energy will power the nanomembrane filtration process, with enough left over to charge mobile phones or other small devices.

The above link gives a video on how the toilet works.

While it is a great innovation, one would doubt, where its applicability would be compatible with the scenarios in poor developing countries. The proposed toilet appears more appropriate for developed countries, and for the large hotels and yachts. It will be difficult to say whether it would be helpful to large populations in poor developing countries, which lack improved sanitation.

F H Mughal
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  • AParker
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Re: The Nano Membrane Toilet (Cranfield University, UK) - new phase of funding until Jan. 2016

Hi Elisabeth,

Yes it's been a pretty crazy couple of weeks for the project! Lots of media coverage, some exaggeration, and the usual mix of criticism and enthusiasm!

Actually as Elisabeth points out we don't have any updates to share yet while we finalize the IP protection. Of course our blog will be the first place we share updates:

And the SuSanA forum will be the second! :)

The webinar I referred to in my e-mail was part of the grantee webinar programme, so I'm not sure it's my place to share the link to the recording or introduce the STeP programme. Elisabeth - maybe this is something you could follow up?

Happy to answer any other questions in the meantime, but be assured we will have a lot more to share soon!

Alison Parker
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  • Elisabeth
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The Nano Membrane Toilet (Cranfield University, UK) - latest results and publications since 2016

The previous thread about the Nano Membrane Toilet is available here:


Looks like Cranfield's Nanomembrane toilet got some publicity in mainstream media lately!

Even Bill Gates mentioned it on his Facebook website (always good to see Bill talk about toilets - whichever toilets they are):

Here is the link to the post on the "I fucking love Science" Facebook page which he had shared (sorry for the rude language but that is the name of that particular Facebook account; they also have a good twitter handle by the way):

It got 1400 comments so far! I had a look at the first few, it seems to be the usual mixture of "toilet humor" jokes to "do we really need this?" to "this looks far too complicated for developing countries" to "I want to buy one!".

I asked Alison on Twitter if she could post an update and this is here reply on twitter:

Alison Parker ‏@AlisonP_WASH 6. Jan.
@EvMuench @saniblog Hi Elisabeth we're making progress with the IP protection so should be able to share more soon!

@EvMuench @saniblog also media reports that we're "about to trial in Ghana" are much exaggerated - it will still be a few months yet!

Here's another link to an article about the toilet in mainstream media:

Anyhow, it's funny how the media picks up on a story and then it gets repeated in different places. :-)

This thing about IP protection is something we've talked about on the forum quite a bit. It seems counter-intuitive at first but Alison explained to me:

Have you been following the STEP programme? They talked a lot about protecting IP in the introductory webinar. They talked to a lot of potential commercialisation partners and realised that few of them would be keen to engage without protected IP.

Interesting point!
Alison, I hope you don't mind that I took that quote from your e-mail to me - but I think it raises a good point. Would you be able to provide the link to the mentioned webinar? Sounds very interesting.

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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