World Toilet Day: Better Toilets and Better Toilet FlushesBy
Yesterday the Professor was thrilled to tune in to NPR’s Science Friday to hear toilet experts discuss a favorite issue: building a better toilet. Participants included Jim McHale, vice president of engineering at American Standard; author Rose George; Frank Rijsberman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and Daniel Yeh, engineering professor and toilet inventor.
The topic of the day was World Toilet Day, an event designed to raise awareness about the 2.6 billion people on earth – that’s 1/3 of the world population – who do not have access to proper sanitation. Lack of access to toilets lead to diarrhea, disease, and death, and represents a serious problem in the developing world.
This is why engineers are working on “reinventing the toilet” to create a commode that does not require access to a sewer system or clean drinking water for flushing. The Gates Foundation has also created a special program offering grants to engineers to create new toilet prototypes. Dr. Yeh is currently working on a model that uses anaerobic bacteria to digest waste, for example.
The Professor also appreciated the discussion on the challenges faced by toilet designers in the U.S. McHale explained that the main concern at American Standard was to conserve water without sacrificing performance, and discussed the company’s participation in the EPA’s WaterSense program, which promotes water efficient products and encourages water-saving behaviors. The Professor particularly enjoyed McHale’s description of the H2Option siphonic dual flush toilet, an “engineering miracle” that uses smart science on the inside and an EverClean glaze on the outside to ensure that a wasteful “double flush” is never necessary to clean the bowl.
If you missed the original broadcast, you can listen in on the Science Friday podcast page.
Want to do more to support the fight for better sanitation around the world? Donate to the World Toilet Organization now!