Skip Navigation
Oklahoma State University

OSU professors to present technology to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Tue, August 14, 2012

A pair of chemical engineering professors from Oklahoma State University will present their waterless sanitation technology to Bill & Melinda Gates and members of their foundation this week as part of the Reinvent the Toilet Fair.  Hosted at the foundation’s offices in Seattle, Wash., the fair will feature the work of 40 grantees and other partners from the foundation’s Water, Sanitation & Hygiene program.  The fair aims to inspire collaboration around a shared mission of delivering a reinvented toilet for the 2.5 billion people worldwide who don’t have access to safe and affordable sanitation.

OSU professors Gary Foutch and AJ Johannes received funding from the Gates Foundation for their technology concept just over a year ago.  They have since developed a small-scale device that can effectively disinfect and dewater feces and other solid wastes. The device would result in less surface and ground water contamination and reduce the associated spread of diseases. Other benefits include odor reduction and less attraction to insects.

“These are the type of creative ideas that Oklahoma State University not only embraces but encourages. We are very proud of Dr. Foutch and Dr. Johannes and their efforts to truly make the world a better place, which truly embodies the mission of a land-grant institution like OSU,” said OSU President Burns Hargis.

“It’s unconscionable that 2.5 billion people suffer today because they don’t have access to a toilet,” said Chris Elias, president of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “At the Reinvent the Toilet Fair we are hosting in August, leading thinkers and inventors will come to Seattle to show the progress they’ve made in developing a reinvented toilet. We need these types of innovations to not only help manage the problem of dealing with human waste, but to help advance progress across a broader range of global challenges. ”

Foutch, who is a regents professor and holds the Anadarko Petroleum Corporation Chair in Chemical Engineering, says he and Johannes are honored to participate in such a worthwhile project.

 “The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports projects with the highest potential impact on themost people,” said Foutch. “We (Johannes and I) are excited that such a prestigious entity believes our efforts have such merit.”

The Gates Foundation has also invited Foutch to present the technology at The Faecal Sludge Management Conference, which takes place inDurban, South Africa, at the end of October.