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Kohler Co. Supports Solar-Powered Toilet Project

December 10, 2013

Kohler is providing support to a team of engineering students and a professor from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in its efforts to develop a solar-powered (photovoltaic) toilet.

"I am thrilled to have the support of Kohler Co. as we move forward with the Gates Foundation to provide better sanitation options in the developing world," said Michael Hoffmann, Caltech's James Irvine Professor of Environmental Science.

The team from Caltech won the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's "Reinventing the Toilet Challenge" with their prototype toilet in 2012. Winning this challenge allowed the team to use the grant from the Gates Foundation to further develop the system. Caltech's system includes a self-contained water purification and disinfection system that allows water to be reused and does not require wastewater disposal. Kohler is joining forces with the university to provide plumbing products and design expertise to the Caltech team, as well as on-the-ground technical support for the system's field trial in India.

"It is exciting and certainly an honor for us to work with the Caltech team, who are true pioneers of their time," said Rob Zimmerman, Kohler Co. sustainability marketing manager. "Kohler is known for pioneering innovative products and helping to advance technology, and through the Gates Foundation challenge, we get the opportunity to support others in their efforts to push traditional systems to a new level.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation started their “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” with the intent of funding projects to address health and sanitation issues in the developing world. The challenge is an effort to develop "next-generation" toilets that will deliver safe and sustainable sanitation to the 2.5 billion people worldwide who don't have it.
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