The Nano Membrane Toilet has been named as one of the ‘50 Ideas to Change the World’ by the Financial Times.

Work by a team at Cranfield University into the waterless, self-contained toilet was recognised within the category of ‘addressing challenges of a growing world population’. The toilet was initially developed as part of the global ‘Reinvent the Toilet Challenge’ set by the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene programme of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The challenge was to develop a toilet that provides a safe sanitation solution for the developing world, at minimal cost to the user. Many areas which lack access to this basic need are also those areas with non-existent or unreliable water, sewage and electricity supplies.

Cranfield’s solution is able to treat human waste on-site without external energy or water, allowing it to be safely transported away and potentially reused.

Dr Alison Parker, Lecturer in International Water and Sanitation at Cranfield University, said: “For many people in the world, having a toilet in their own home, which they can use in privacy, clean themselves and that wouldn’t take up too much space is so important.

“It is too easy to take for granted having one or more working toilets in our homes.”

In 2015, Cranfield University was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of its education and research on water and sanitation for developing countries.

Nano Membrane Toilet video
The Nano Membrane Toilet explained

About Cranfield University

Cranfield is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.

Cranfield Water

Cranfield has over 40 years’ experience in the sector and we are recognised internationally for our work in the science, engineering and management of water. We work in all aspects of water – whether it is helping to ensure safe, clean supplies for domestic consumption, assessing agricultural needs for food production, protecting and enhancing natural habitats or improving process engineering for manufacturing and industry.

We have strategic partnerships with the Department for the Environment, Yorkshire Water, Severn Trent and Anglian Water.

Our activities are underpinned by world-class facilities, including a pilot-plant hall at the University’s own sewage treatment works, state-of-the-art soil and water laboratories, a grey water treatment pilot area, a managed borehole drilling site and soil and irrigation testing facilities.

We are a founding member of Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP); it is estimated that, to date, it has helped provide over one million people with clean drinking water, and some 400,000 with improved sanitation.

In 2015, we were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for our education and research into safe water and sanitation for the world's poorest communities.