The Breakthrough Innovation Lab, part of C4D, is involved in the wider University work on the Nano Membrane Toilet, one facet of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ‘Reinvent the Toilet Challenge’. We are aiming to develop a standalone household-scale toilet which will be able to treat human waste on-site without external sewerage, energy or water requirements.

Key Facts

    • The Nano Membrane Toilet is being developed to enable those without plumbing to have access to safe and hygienic facilities.
    • We have come up with an innovative solution which uses nanotechnology to convert human waste to water and ash.
    • The Breakthrough Innovation Lab is developing revolutionary waterless flush technology to supply the other advanced technologies within the overall system.
  • Funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ‘Reinvent the Toilet Challenge'
Toilet design
Nano Membrane Toilet in the Breakthrough Innovation Lab

Impact of our research

The University is involved in the Gates Foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet Challenge and the Breakthrough Innovation Lab has played a major role in creating the first working prototypes of a next generation product (Nano Membrane Toilet).

Phase II of the project is complete with human testing underway and a successful collaboration meeting at the Gates Foundation’s headquarters in Seattle in July 2016.

We are now preparing to embark on Phase III which will see further advances in our current technologies and the full system being integrated for the first time, followed by overseas deployment and testing of these new prototypes.


Why the research was commissioned

In 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation initiated a global ‘Reinvent the Toilet Challenge’ to bring sustainable sanitation solutions to the two and a half billion people worldwide who do not have access to safe, affordable sanitation.

The breakthrough innovation being called for was a toilet which operates without connections to water, sewers, or electricity; removes germs from human waste; recovers energy and clean water; and costs less than $0.05 per user per day.


Why Cranfield?

For the Nano Membrane Toilet project, researchers have been brought together from a variety of disciplines including our Breakthrough Innovation Lab – which sits within C4D – to meet the challenge of reinventing the toilet.