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Proceedings Paper

Thermoelectric energy harvesting for a solid waste processing toilet
Author(s): C. David Stokes; Nicholas G. Baldasaro; Gary E. Bulman; Brian R. Stoner
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Paper Abstract

Over 2.5 billion people do not have access to safe and effective sanitation. Without a sanitary sewer infrastructure, self-contained modular systems can provide solutions for these people in the developing world and remote areas. Our team is building a better toilet that processes human waste into burnable fuel and disinfects the liquid waste. The toilet employs energy harvesting to produce electricity and does not require external electrical power or consumable materials. RTI has partnered with Colorado State University, Duke University, and Roca Sanitario under a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Reinvent the Toilet Challenge (RTTC) grant to develop an advanced stand-alone, self-sufficient toilet to effectively process solid and liquid waste. The system operates through the following steps: 1) Solid-liquid separation, 2) Solid waste drying and sizing, 3) Solid waste combustion, and 4) Liquid waste disinfection. Thermoelectric energy harvesting is a key component to the system and provides the electric power for autonomous operation. A portion of the exhaust heat is captured through finned heat-sinks and converted to electricity by thermoelectric (TE) devices to provide power for the electrochemical treatment of the liquid waste, pumps, blowers, combustion ignition, and controls.

Paper Details

Date Published: 11 June 2014
PDF: 5 pages
Proc. SPIE 9115, Energy Harvesting and Storage: Materials, Devices, and Applications V, 91150G (11 June 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2073696
Show Author Affiliations
C. David Stokes, RTI International (United States)
Nicholas G. Baldasaro, RTI International (United States)
Gary E. Bulman, RTI International (United States)
Brian R. Stoner, RTI International (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9115:
Energy Harvesting and Storage: Materials, Devices, and Applications V
Nibir K. Dhar; Palani Balaya; Achyut K. Dutta, Editor(s)

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