Constructing A Sustainable Toilet

Bill Jacoby watches as research assistant Nick Wilkinson takes a sample of the toilet system's water output.
Credit Jessica Salmond / University of Missouri

Professors from the University of Missouri and Duke University have been working to design self-sustaining toilets.  While this may not seem like a need in counties with developed sewer system, in places without sewer networks dealing with human waste can be a serious health problem. According to the World Health Organization, 2.4 billion people do not have access to any type of improved sanitation facility and roughly 2 million people die every year due to diarrhoeal diseases, most of them younger than 5 years old. Utilizing high temperature and high pressure, these latrines may be able to transform human waste into drinkable water. And, because these toilets have the potential to operate without additional electricity, they could create an effective sanitation system for developing countries. 


  • Doug HendryPh.D, Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Duke University