JavaScript must be enabled in order for you to use the Site in standard view. However, it seems JavaScript is either disabled or not supported by your browser. To use standard view, enable JavaScript by changing your browser options.

| Last Updated:17/04/2014

Latest News(Archive)

Latest News

Part III: How an Ambitious Group of Innovators are Catalyzing Change in the Toilet Business, 11 April 2014



This is the final piece in a three-part series about innovations in global sanitation, following the Unclogging Blockages in Sanitation conference in Kampala, Uganda. Read part two here.


With a disposition as sunny as her home state of Texas, the effervescent Emily Wood is harnessing the power of the sun itself to clean up the messy business of sanitation.


At the Unclogging the Blockages in Sanitation conference, I quickly learned that, when it comes to the business of sanitation, the toilet is just the beginning. In fact it’s the easy part; the blockage in sanitation is actually in the removal and treatment of human waste. In developed markets, large scale municipalities have successfully created systems to treat feces; but large treatment plants are expensive and therefore non-starters in less developed corners of the world. Decentralized and cheaper treatment models and technologies are needed to fill the gap.


Emily’s story started during her time as an engineering student at Georgia Tech. During her junior year, neighboring Emory University approached Georgia Tech’s engineering department to partner on finding a solution to a problem they had uncovered. Emory was conducting a study on composting toilets in Central America. Through the study, they discovered an interesting and disturbing statistic. They found that there was a significantly higher rate of humans infected with helminthes worms in areas where compost toilets were being used as compared to areas that had traditional pit toilets. The compost was not breaking down completely and people were getting sick from using the compost on their crops. Knowing that heating anything to a high enough temperature will kill anything, they wanted to partner with the engineers at Georgia Tech develop a heat-centered solution to the compost bacteria. After graduation, Emily and a few fellow engineering students went off to Chile to tackle the problem. The team determined that concentrated solar power could heat feces to a high enough temperature that would kill dangerous pathogens in the hours of a sunny day.