Waterless Toilet Uses Nanotechnology to Process Waste

March 2, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. economical 
/ˌɛk əˈnɒm ɪ kəl / (adj.) – avoiding waste
Example: He was very economical with his money.

2. finalist / faɪn l ɪst / (n.) – someone or something that competes in the final part of a competition
Example: She wasn’t the champion of the tournament, but she was a finalist 

3. apparatus /ˌæp əˈræt əs / (n.) – any complex machine used for a purpose
Example: The apparatus was designed to lift heavy materials.

4. disposable / dɪˈspoʊ zə bəl / (adj.) – can be thrown away
Example: The machine has several disposable parts.

5. inadequate / ɪnˈæd ɪ kwɪt / (adj.) – not enough
Example: We have inadequate resources for the project.


Read the text below.
A new waterless toilet that converts waste into power, produces clean water, and eliminates smells has been developed by UK scientists.

The Nano Membrane Toilet was developed by scientists from Cranfield University to be economical, waterless, and eco-friendly. It can be used by up to ten people in a single house, at only $0.05 per day per user. It was a finalist at the fourth Cleantech Innovate hosted by UK company ecoConnect CIC.

The invention uses a rotating apparatus that flushes the waste into a holding chamber to block odors and transfer waste out of sight. In the holding chamber, the solid waste collects at the bottom, while the liquid waste floats and is turned into bacteria-free water vapor by the nano membrane. When the vapor passes over the nanoparticle beads, it is returned to its liquid state as clean water. It can then be used to water plants.

Meanwhile, solid waste is also utilized in the Nano Membrane Toilet. The toilet’s mechanism allows solid waste to be coated with paraffin wax, drying it up, and producing energy for the membrane. The waste is sealed in a disposable bag and will be regularly collected by a local operator and brought to a thermal processing plant. Excess solid waste can be used as fertilizer.

With the invention, the Cranfield University team hopes to provide access to safe and cheap sanitation to the millions of people who lack it. Inadequate sanitation raises the risk of exposure to diseases like cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, polio, and typhoid. It is set for a trial run in Africa in late 2016.   

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Aside from Africa, what other facilities or places could benefit from the Nano Membrane Toilet?
·         Do you think existing toilets should be replaced with Nano Membrane Toilet? Why or why not?

Discussion B
·         Aside from those mentioned in the article, what other problems are caused by lack of sanitation?
·         In what ways has technology improved sanitation?

March 2, 2016