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IF Thomas Crapper were around today, he would find our toilets quite familiar, says Bill Gates, referring to the Victorian manufacturer of sanitary ware whose name has become attached to one of the bodys most fundamental functions. They havent seen many advances apart from handles and paper toilet rolls. In fact, with the exception of S-traps to contain odours, flush toilets have changed little since Sir John Harington installed one in Richmond Palace for Queen Elizabeth I.比尔盖茨驳回卫生洁具制造商维多利亚时说:如果今天汤马斯·克拉普在这里,他一定会找到我们的马桶很熟知。一谈到维多利亚时代汤马斯·克拉弗这个名字,就很更容易误解到身体的最基本功能之一。比尔盖茨还谈及:与汤马斯·克拉弗时代比起,这些马桶除了在夹住和厕纸卷筒上有所改进,其他并没过于多改良。

事实上,除了应用于s形下水管存水转弯存储臭气,抽水马桶自约翰·哈灵顿爵士为女王伊丽莎白一世在里士满宫加装了抽水马桶起完全并未再次发生转变。Mr Gates considers it time for a change. On August 14th his charitable institution, the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation, announced the gold-, silver- and bronze-medal winners in its Reinvent The Toilet Challenge, which aims to bring safe, affordable and sustainable loos to the 40% of the worlds population who lack access to basic sanitation, thus preventing many of the 1.5m childhood deaths from diarrhoea that now occur each year.盖茨先生指出现在是时候做到一些转变了。



而这样的措施能避免很多这样的孩子丧生。The Challenge is nothing if not ambitious. It seeks a toilet that costs less than five cents per user per day to operate, that requires neither a supply of clean water nor sewerage infrastructure to take the waste away, and that will generate energy and recover salts, water and other nutrients. Remarkably, despite the challenge being little more than a year old, the award winners claim to be on track to achieve all of these goals.这样的挑战是极为雄心勃勃的。它致力于修建一个每天每次不多达5分的厕所。

这样的厕所不依赖洗手的水也不依赖灌溉设备来污水处理,在产生能量的同时还能萃取盐分、水分和其他营养物质。更加引人注目的是,这项挑战在一年内就已完成了,而且奖项的获得者都如之前所定的那样超过了所有的目标。In third place is a toilet designed by researchers at the University of Toronto. This treats urine and faeces separately, using a material freely available in many of the worlds poorest regions: sand. Urine is filtered through sand, and the resulting liquor is exposed to ultraviolet light to sterilise it. Faeces are dried slowly within the toilet before being fed into a smouldering sand-filled reactor. The system can sanitise the waste of ten people in two hours, leaving only sand and fresh(ish) water behind.名列第三名的厕所设计者为多伦多大学的研究员们。


排泄物则在厕所里渐渐的变干,填满入一个装进沙子的低温焦炭反应器。这个系统能在两个小时内给十个人的排泄物展开公共卫生处置,最后只留给沙子和整洁的水。The runner-up, from Loughborough University in Britain, brings chemical-engineering principles to bear. A tank feeds mixed urine and faeces through a rig that heats it to 200°C under high pressure, killing pathogens. Returning the superheated mixture suddenly to atmospheric pressure causes it to separate into its liquid and gaseous components. The gas is used to heat the feed tank. The liquid is fed into a digester that produces enough methane to power the entire system—and some to spare.亚军来自英国的拉夫堡大学,他们应用于的是化学工程原理。尿液和排泄物都存储在一个容器中,在高压下利用一个仪器将它冷却到200°C,这样就能杀掉致病菌。


将高温处置的混合物很快置放大气压下,使之分离出来成液体和气态颗粒。气体用来冷却最初的供给容器,而液体则重新加入蒸炼器中产生的沼气除了充足为整个系统供能外,还有剩下。The winning toilet, however, is smarter still. It has been developed by Michael Hoffman of the California Institute of Technology, and has earned him the $100,000 first prize. Dr Hoffmans toilet uses solar panels to power an electrochemical system that produces two things. One is hydrogen. The other is a compound which oxidises the salts in urine to generate chlorine. This creates a mildly disinfecting solution that can be used to flush the toilet. The hydrogen is suitable for cooking or for powering a fuel cell to produce electricity. The solid residue from the process can be employed as fertiliser.冠军厕所也更加智能。



The Gates Foundation will now pay for prototypes to be tested in the field, probably of all three winners and possibly of some other ideas, and Mr Gates hopes that the foundations reinvented toilets will start being deployed for real in as little as two years. They will thus be able to contribute to achieving what is the most off-track of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, to halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to basic sanitation. As the chairman of the UN Secretary-Generals Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, the Prince of Orange, observes, politicians and leaders worldwide dont like to be associated with toilets, even state-of-the-art toilets. This sanitation stigma distorts international and national development agendas.现在,盖茨的基金会就不会为这些技术雏形付以报酬来展开该领域的试验,这些技术雏形有可能是前三甲,也有可能是其他的设计。盖茨先生期望由基金会完全改建的厕所不会在两年内月投产。他们也能因此为联合国千年发展目标作出最不奇怪(最离经叛道?)的贡献,在2015年使无法持续享用基本卫生设备的人口减少一半。联合国秘书长顾问委员会水与卫生部主席奥伦治公评价道:全世界的政治家和领导人并不不愿让自己和厕所联系在一起,即使是最先进设备的厕所。

正是这样一种关于公共卫生的特性让国际和国家的发展计划都产生了变形。Dr Hoffman agrees that sanitation is insufficiently sexy. He says the technology behind his winning solar-powered toilet had been sitting on the shelf since he demonstrated it to NASA, Americas space agency, in the early 1990s, for use on the International Space Station. It is, as he puts it, hard to get a scientific grant for treating faeces.霍夫曼博士也指出卫生事业不是那么更有人。


他回应,他曾于1990年初将他的太阳能供能厕所向美国宇航局,美国国家航空和宇宙航行局展开展出以供他们在国际空间站中用于,但是这样的技术之后就被不了了之了。他回应:要在处置排泄物上获得科学基金是很难的。Even the Gates Foundation itself, which hands out around $3 billion each year, has so far devoted just $6.5m to its Reinventing The Toilet Challenge. But that will change as the project goes from conception to delivery. The foundation now intends to spend up to $80m a year on sanitation, an investment that the World Health Organisation estimates will produce a return of 900% in the form of social and economic benefits coming from increased productivity and reduced health care costs.即使是盖茨基金会本身至今也尽投放了650万美元用作完全改建厕所的挑战,而基金会每年的慈善基金花费在30亿元左右。




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