Public toilets are a test of someone’s patience but this one in a South Korean University actually pays you to use their sparkling clean facility, and you can be useful for both the environment and Science in the process as well. How about that? So, if these OpenBiome projects every work out eventually, you could have public washrooms that pay you to poop all around the world.
It is called the Science Walden Pavillion for some reason and is present in the grounds of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) located in South Korea. The waterless toilet aims to convert human feces into biofuel. The toilet uses a dehydrating system similar to other waste power systems in which the fecal material is broken down into a dry and odorless power and then put inside a digestion tank that is home to different types of microbes. These microbes feed on the dry material and generate Carbon Dioxide and Methane, which can be trapped and used.
Now Carbon Dioxide can be used to culture Green Algae that are a primary source of biofuels in the world. Methane is the principal component of natural gas and can be used as a heating fuel. The Methane can contribute to environmental problems but less than what our own poop is capable of if the sanitation system doesn’t work just like in 70% of the cases. The toilet also uses less water and actually generates some water instead.
“Our ultimate goal is not only for the new toilet system to save water and operational costs for wastewater treatment plants but for us to establish an ecosystem that supports technology innovation and drives economic diversification where human waste literally has a financial value,” says Professor Jaeweon Cho, the head of the project. They also aim to create awareness in the public by developing an app that tells you how much your waste is worth if you use this kind of toilet. Sounds pretty cool, huh?