The Loughborough Toilet


  • Descriptive Overview
    Backend processing system in which both solids and liquids fractions of human excreta are processed together in a single stream using a hydrothermal carbonization process (HTC). The waste is passed into a reactor, which is sealed allowing the application of pressure and temperature, to break down the organic material. The resulting products are carbonized solids and hot sterile water. Entire assembly is built into a cabinet with a small footprint.
  • Use Case Details
    Current focus is a household toilet. Core process has been scaled up for testing as a pit-side processor.
  • Dimensions (meters)
    1 x 0.55 x 2
  • Other Waste Accepted
    Urine, feces
  • Use Cases
    • Single-stall Toilet
    • Multi-stall Toilet
    • Building-level Processing
  • Interface Type
  • Frontend Description
    Some versions of the system have integrated a pedestal toilet and processing components. The processing technology is designed to be connected to any frontend configuration or user interface. From the user interface, solid and liquid waste is pumped into the processing system and held in an input tank. No separation is necessary.
  • Flush Water Source
  • Users per Day (Expected)
    Current design can accommodate approximately 6 – 40 users per day. Future, scaled versions could serve 100+ users per day.
  • Users per Day (Maximum)
  • Type of Waste Treated
    Combined Stream (solids and liquids)
  • Core Processing Technology
  • Processing Overview
    From the input tank, waste is sent to a high temperature and pressure reactor for hydrothermal carbonization. Pathogens are inactivated through thermal treatment.
  • Processing Capacity
    Past prototypes have processed approximately 2.5 kg/day (10 people at 250 g each)
  • Processing Parameters
    Processing Temperature: 200 C; Processing Pressure: 14 bar;
  • Power Systems Overview
    Current prototype requires grid power; team is evaluating options for off-grid operation
  • Currently in Active Development
  • Commercialization Status
    In Development
  • Commercialization Activities
    Prototypes have been field tested in China and Senegal. Team is seeking opportunities to license or transfer know-how to commercial partners.
  • Intellectual Property Status
  • Intellectual Property Details
    No patents generated; significant intellectual property exists in equipment drawings and know-how.
  • Frequency of Emptying Outputs
    Frequency of Emptying Solids System produces 10-15 g/user/day of biochar that can be used as fertilizer.
  • Nutrient Reuse
    Biochar can be removed from the system as often as desired. Liquid effluent can be used as fertilizer or further treated for reuse as flush water.
  • Technology Development Milestones
  • Field Tested in China
    TRL: 6 (2015)
    The Loughborough team has a working prototype (V2) that has been field tested in a residential apartment (family of 3) in China, 2014-2015.
  • Field Tested in Senegal
    TRL: 6 (2016)
    The system has also been successfully tested in Dakar, Senegal in early 2016 in three locations: at a utilities office (ONAS), with a middle income family (family of 10), and in a slum household (family of 15).
  • Progressing to a Design Validation Prototype
    TRL: 7 (2017)
    Version 3 is currently between TRL 6 and 7, progressing to a design validation prototype, in testing in local UK context, not in a developing country as yet.
  • Linked Enabling Components
  • None linked
  • Linked Processing Technologies
  • None linked