The Power of Poo – What will they think of next?
Why waste what goes down the toilet when you could use it to light up your house and run your electrical devices? Soon you may not have to worry about that.
Scientists in Singapore have invented a new toilet system that will turn human waste into electricity and fertilizers and also reduce the amount of water needed for flushing by up to 90 per cent compared to current toilet systems. And you thought the only use for your toilet was a place to sit and read.
No Mix Vacuum Toilet
The scientists have named their handy-dandy little toilet the No-Mix Vacuum Toilet. It has two chambers that separate the liquid and solid wastes. Using vacuum suction technology, such as those used in airplane lavatories, flushing liquids would now take only 0.2 liters of water while flushing solids require just one liter. Most toilets today use about 4 to 6 liters of water per flush so there is a great deal of water that could be saved with the new device. If installed in a public restroom flushed 100 times a day, this next generation toilet system, will save about 160,000 liters in a year — enough to fill a small swimming pool. But don’t be too quick to take a dip in that water.
The scientists are still testing their invention but say that if all goes well, the world can expect to see and even sit on the new toilet in the next three years.
The ultimate aim for the new toilet is not only for the new toilet system to save water, but to have a total recovery system for whatever gets flushed down the commode. Doing so, they say, would save money by lowering the cost of wastewater management and recovering and using chemicals in the waste that could be utilized for fuel and energy.
How it works
The No-Mix Vacuum Toilet works by diverting the liquid waste to a processing facility where components used for fertilizers such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium can be recovered. The solid waste will be sent to a bioreactor where it will be digested to release biogas, which contains methane. Methane is odorless and can be used to replace natural gas used in stoves for cooking. Methane can also be converted to electricity if used to fuel power plants or fuel cells.
‘Grey water’ (used water from the laundry, shower and kitchen sink) can be released back into the drainage systems without further need for complex waste water treatment, while leftover food wastes can be sent either to the bioreactors or turned into compost and mixed with soil, resulting in a complete recovery of resources.
There’s no indication of what the cost of the new toilet might be. It could be high, however when considering all the infrastructure changes that might have to be made to accommodate the new device.
So, once again you might see your hard earned wages go down the you-know-what.