Chủ Nhật, 23 tháng 3, 2014

Toilet tech fair tackles global sanitation woes

Who would have expected a toilet to one day filter water, charge a cellphone or create charcoal to combat climate change?

These are lofty ambitions beyond what most of the world's 2.5 billion people with no access to modern sanitation would expect. Yet, scientists and toilet innovators around the world say these are exactly the sort of goals needed to improve global public health amid challenges such as poverty, water scarcity and urban growth.

Scientists who accepted the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's challenge to reinvent the toilet showcased their inventions in the Indian capital Saturday. The primary goal: to sanitize waste, use minimal water or electricity, and produce a usable product at low cost.

The World Bank estimates the annual global cost of poor sanitation at $260 billion, including loss of life, missed work, medical bills and other related factors. India alone accounts for $54 billion — more than the entire GDP of Kenya or Costa Rica.

India is by far the worst culprit, with more than 640 million people defecating in the open and producing a stunning 72,000 tons of human waste each day — the equivalent weight of almost 10 Eiffel Towers or 1,800 humpback whales.

Pooping in public is so acceptable that many Indians will do it on sidewalks or in open fields. Gaze out the window of any Indian train and face a line of bare bottoms doing their business on the tracks. Meanwhile, diarrheal diseases kill 700,000 children every year, most of which could have been prevented with better sanitation.

"In the West, such things are a nuisance, but people don't lose their lives," said Christopher Elias, president of global development at the Gates Foundation. "People don't immediately realize the damage done by infections coming from human waste."

India has been encouraging rural communities to build toilets, and last year launched a $1.6 billion program to help. But building sanitation systems in developing countries is not easy. Flush toilets are not always an option. Many poor communities live in water-stressed areas. Others lack links to sewage pipes or treatment plants.

To be successful, scientists said, the designs being exhibited at Saturday's Toilet Fair had to go beyond treating urine and feces as undesirable waste, and recognize them as profit-generating resources for electricity, fertilizer or fuel.

"Traditionally, people have gone into communities and said, 'Let's dig you a pit.' That's seen as condescension, a token that isn't very helpful. After all, who is going to clean that pit?" said M. Sohail, professor of sustainable infrastructure at Loughborough University in the U.K.

All the designs are funded by Gates Foundation grants and in various stages of development.

Some toilets collapsed neatly for easy portability into music festivals, disaster zones or illegal slums. One emptied into pits populated by waste-munching cockroaches and worms.

One Washington-based company, Janicki Industries, designed a power plant that could feed off the waste from a small city to produce 150 megawatts of electricity, enough to power thousands of homes.

The University of the West of England, Bristol, showcased a urine-powered fuel cell to charge cellphones overnight.

April 2014 Tech Cocktail Week: Mixer & Startup Showcase

Applications for Tech Cocktail Mixer & Startup Showcase on April 10, 2014 are now open. Interested in applying? Apply here!

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About Tech Cocktail: Tech Cocktail is a media company that covers the latest tech innovations across the globe. Tech Cocktail has been hosting mixer events and writing about technology start-ups and entrepreneurs across the country with the focus of helping to amplify the local technology signal since 2006. The team has hosted large events in Chicago, D.C., NY, San Francisco, Boston, Boulder, San Diego, Detroit, Boise, Austin, Barcelona and more.

Source: http://vegastech.com

Tech Wrestling Places 8th At NCAA Championships

This is going to sound very familiar to those of you who have followed Virginia Tech athletics over the years. Junior Devin Carter, the fourth seed in the tournament, made it to the title game and lost 10-1 to Ohio State's Logan Stieber. The 141 pound Carter is the first Hokie to ever reach the finals. It was an impressive run for the Christiansburg native, who battled leg surgery and came back to become an All American and national runner-up.

Two other Hokies also placed in the tournament, both of them earning All American honors. Freshman Joey Dance lost in the second round to top ranked Jesse Delgado of Illinois. But Dance wasn't done as he won five straight matches in the consolation bracket. He finished that with a 6-1 loss to Nico Megaludis of Penn State, but it was still good enough for a 4th place finish.

Senior Chris Penny advanced to the semi-finals without a loss but ultimately became a victim when he fell 4-1 to second ranked J Den Cox of Missouri. He forfeited out of the 5th place match to earn 6th place overall.
Ty Walz, Austin Gabel, Nick Vetterlein, Chris Moon, and Dennis Gustafson all found early exits from the tournament. Senior Zach Neibert advanced to the quarterfinals before falling 4-3 to Mitchell Minotti of Lehigh.

Their performance was good enough to earn Virginia Tech an 8th place overall finish in the country. Here are the top ten teams from this year's tournament:

Team:
1st Place Finishers
2nd Place Finishers
3rd Place Finishers
Points
Penn State
2
0
1
109.5
Minnesota
0
2
2
104
Oklahoma State
2
2
0
96.5
Iowa
1
0
0
78.5
Edinboro
0
0
1
62
Ohio State
1
1
0
57
Cornell
0
1
1
53
Virginia Tech
0
1
0
49
Northwestern
1
0
1
46
Oklahoma
0
1
0
45

Scoring at the collegiate level is based on how each individual wrestler finishes. For example, 1st place nets 16 points, 2nd place is 12 points, etc. You also get points for advancing in a bracket, and for falls, forfeits, and major decisions. These individual points add up to provide the team's score.

While it wasn't the national championship everyone had been hoping for, it was still a nice way to end the season. Even better is seeing Tech's name right up there near Tom Brands' Iowa squad, a team that may one day fall below Tech on this chart. Most importantly is the fact that coach Kevin Dresser has his team constantly moving and they easily improved upon last years' 10th place finish. With the way Dresser is recruiting, they could easily be top five with a first place finisher next year, especially considering how highly regarded the 2013 recruiting class turned out to be.