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Swiss and Austrian inventors win prize for toilet

Researchers from Switzerland and Austria have received a $40,000 (€32,500) prize from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for inventing a self-sufficient toilet for use in developing countries.

The team, from the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) and Austrian design firm EOOS in Vienna, created a squatting toilet that requires no sewer or outside energy source and includes a recycling and treatment system for waste discharge.

The Diversion toilet is also designed to be economically viable in developing countries, costing less than five cents per day per person. Its inventors have developed a business model in which separated waste could be collected and processed in treatment plants to generate products that can be sold on, including fertilizer and biogas.

The winning toilet design was presented at a sanitation fair in Seattle as one of eight models developed for the Gates Foundation’s Re-invent the Toilet Challenge.

The researchers now intend to build prototypes of the invention for testing by the end of 2013.