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University of British Columbia

Waterless toilet made with mushrooms

In many parts of the world, toilets remain out of reach. An estimated one in three people in the world don't have access to a toilet, and one in nine people don't have access to safe water. A group of students from the University of British Columbia have come up with a new way to give people without plumbing clean, safe places to do their business.

The MYCOmmunity Toilet, which just won the 2018 Biodesign Challenge, is a portable toilet kit designed for refugee camps that uses a mycelium (a mushroom product) tank to eventually turn human waste into compost. Everything needed to set up the toilet is packed into one kit, which users can set up into a small, sit-down toilet with a traditional seat and a tank for waste. The appliance is designed to fit into a refugee tent and serve a family of six for up to a month.

According to mentalfloss.com, the toilet separates solid and liquid waste for separate treatment. Enzyme capsules can be used to neutralize the smell of urine and start the decomposition, and poop can be covered in sawdust or other material to tamp down odours and rev up the composting process.

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