March 19th, 2014 | by Michael Keller

World Water Day is coming up this Saturday. One of the event’s goals is to bring attention to the billion people who live without access to safe drinking water.

A major obstacle standing before that objective is a lack of the sanitation that would prevent human waste from polluting water supplies. One innovation, a solar-powered, fiber-optic-equipped toilet that requires no water and sanitizes sewage with high heat, is among several that are trying to fix the problem and improve public health.

Developed by engineers at University of Colorado Boulder, the system uses eight parabolic mirrors that focus sunlight onto an area the size of a postage stamp. This energy is then piped through fiber-optic cables to a reaction chamber that heats waste to 600 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We are doing something that has never been done before,” said environmental engineering professor Karl Linden in a statement. “While the idea of concentrating solar energy is not new, transmitting it flexibly to a customizable location via fiber-optic cables is the really unique aspect of this project.”

Source: Txchnologist and for the entire story.

Top Image: CU Boulder postdoctoral researcher Tesfayohanes Yakob (left) and research engineer Dana Haushulz with a solar-thermal toilet. Photo courtesy University of Colorado.