Q&A with Gary Foutch
OSU professor works to offer
affordable sanitation in world
Q: I understand you're working to develop more efficient toilets worldwide and recently presented to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has taken the lead in tackling the issue that 2.5 billion people worldwide lack access to safe and affordable sanitation. Tell us about your technology. How does it work?
A: We use the concept of viscous heating. Basically, we heat the mass by friction to the point where we can sanitize the waste for safe handling and even vaporize any water for recovery.
Q: What are its benefits?
A: No water or heat is required. The treated waste is safe for agricultural use or energy production.
Q: What has it been like to work with the Gates Foundation?
A: Whereas some funding agencies take a hands-off approach, the Gates Foundation works toward more rapid solutions and technical integrations. If they see opportunities for groups to work together toward a solution they aggressively pursue those options. You know they're monitoring progress and that they will drive development toward an inevitable solution.
Q: I understand you've received $100,000 from the Gates Foundation to support your work. What's the next step in the funding process?
A: We have opportunity to compete for Phase 2 funding, and have had discussions with groups in Africa and England to define potential opportunities to integrate with them. We plan to meet all the other grantees in Durban, South Africa, at the end of this month to discuss further possibilities.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER