Terax technology to reinvent the toilet

Scion has secured funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to reinvent the toilet using a piece of Terax technology.

The Reinvent the Toilet Challenge launched by the Gates Foundation in 2011, aims to bring sustainable sanitation solutions to the 2.5 billion people worldwide who don’t have access to safe, affordable sanitation.

Daniel Gapes, Research leader - Environmental Technologies says, “We were asked to submit a late application for the challenge after one of our scientists, John Andrews, presented on Terax at the IWA Leading Edge Technologies conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in 2014.”

The Gates Foundation has awarded Scion $400-thousand to design and build a prototype by September 2016.

“Basically our task is to create a toilet that removes pathogens from human waste, is off the grid without connections to water, sewer, or electrical lines, costs less than five cents(US) to use per person a day, and recovers valuable resources such as clean water and energy.”

Scion’s is one of twenty toilet design challenges underway across the globe in the next 12 months.

Dr Gapes says, “We’re very much at the start -up phase of this design.  Our aim is to apply the wet oxidation piece of Terax technology on a much smaller and simplified scale.” 

“One of the first things we’re doing is concocting a model human waste product to feed into Scion’s mini hydrothermal reactor, enabling easy initial concept testing. But we will be moving reasonably quickly to using ‘the real deal’, as working with human waste is what the challenge is all about.”

He says simplicity is key to this project.  We want to design something that can be used by developing countries to improve sanitation. It’s that piece of technology beneath the toilet doing the business. 


Scion is a partner with ESR, Cawthron Institute and Landcare Research in the Centre for Integrated Biowaste Research (CIBR), a multidisciplinary team that uses sustainable collaborative management approaches to biowaste (organic waste) issues.

The CIBR works to provide unique and holistic solutions for the sustainable management of biowastes using cutting edge science and innovation. It provides local, regional and national Government with science to underpin decision making for sustainable biowaste management, and works with community groups and key regulatory and industry stakeholders to ensure systems and technical solutions are fit for New Zealand purposes.

CIBR’s project with the Kaikōura community shows how an integrated environmental, social, cultural and economic approach was used to derive sustainable solutions for the reuse of stockpiled biosolids for the community.

Find out more about the CIBR.