With our global population nearing 7 billion , we humans are generating an unprecedented amount of waste. Not just plastic doodads and junked cars, but good old-fashioned human waste, the kind we generally like to flush away as quickly as possible.
It's a problem that'll only get worse, so innovators are coming up with ways to use the inevitable byproducts of human society.
Composting toilets have long been favored by back-to-the-earth types, but the LooWatt , a waterless iteration, takes things a step further — this toilet is made of the very thing it’s meant to take in. After filling the biodegradable bag inside, users (it's designed mostly for use in developing countries) make a deposit at a biodigesting facility, where they get dried, composted material as biofuel for cooking.
As it turns out, number 1 might be as useful as number 2: A scientist at Ohio University invented a method that uses urine to create hydrogen fuel via ammonia electrolysis. The process, known as the GreenBox , has been scaled up for use in high-traffic places like office buildings. It's also helping transform the waste from livestock-raising facilities that would otherwise go to, well, waste.