Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Prizes and publicity!

We are pleased to announce the Nano Membrane Toilet has been selected as winner of the award for Excellence in the Field of Environmental Technology Research, by a panel chaired by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco.   The award was presented to PhD student Jake Larsson, at CleanEquity Monaco 2015, the forum for emerging cleantech and resource efficiency companies, hosted by London based specialist investment bank Innovator Capital. 

Jake (centre) receives the award form the Prince (right)

 A photo of all the award winners was displayed in Times Square in New York

The award has lead to some increased media coverage of the Nano Membrane Toilet.   An interview that Jake gave explaining the processes within the toilet and its possible applications has been carried by newspapers all over the world, from Australia to Ireland and Malta, as well as on the BBC website (see full list here).   Alison gave a live interview on BBC Three Counties Radio (from 1.48.44) and it was mentioned on the ABC702 Breakfast Show in Australia.

However, another highlight has to be being satirized in the Sydney Morning Herald with this cartoon showing how the Nano Membrane Toilet will be able to charge mobile phones:

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Perspectives from potential users

Earlier this year four members of the Nano Membrane Toilet team traveled to Ghana to hear from our potential users and get their input into the design of the toilet.

We were really pleased to work with Clean Team who made sure we got all the surveys done (103!) and pre-tested them for us.   We were keen to talk to their customers as they have already made the decision to invest in an aspirational sanitation product, so we thought they would have some useful ideas for us.   Clean Team work across six districts of the city of Kumasi which allowed us to observe the many differences in style of houses, income levels, religion and water supplies.  
Jake interviews one of the Clean Team customers

People seemed very open to most of the concepts around the toilet: the water would be useful for cleaning, as even where people had taps in the house metering was becoming commonplace so there’s a money saving from the reuse.   Very few people liked the idea of drinking it, although one woman did say that since we had come from a University in England we must be doing a good job and therefore if I said the water was safe to drink she would be happy with it!

The potential for charging mobile phones from a toilet lit up almost everyone’s eyes, partially just the concept but also because, despite everyone we spoke to having electricity in the house, the dreaded ‘doomsa-doomsa’ - power cuts - were so common that getting caught short of phone battery during the blackouts was a big headache for many people! 

Ross takes a respondent through the a hidden needs assessment

Many people were excited about the idea and would be willing to accept a new technology, and work to keep it clean, safe, and well maintained. Many asked how quickly they could see it or buy it but they'll have to wait until next year when we start our field trials!
Ross contemplates the consequences of poor sanitation

We'll publish our full report shortly, and will also present the details of the perspectives on water reuse at the forthcoming WEDC Conference in Loughborough (UK) in July 2015.

Monday, 9 March 2015

New team members

We're delighted to have two new post-docs join the team from across the world!

Chih-ying (Karen) Wang has a PhD  entitled "Diffusion in hydrogel-supported lipid bilayer membranes" from McGill University in Canada and joins us following a post-doc at University Paris Sud.   She will be working on membrane sizing.

Tosin Onabanjo did her PhD here in Cranfield on gas turbine fuels, and she has experience in site remediation in Nigeria.   She will be testing the gasifier.