At South Korean university, now using a toilet can pay for your coffee or buy you snacks.
Yes, you read that right.
Cho Jae-weon, an urban and environmental engineering professor at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), has designed an eco-friendly toilet connected to a laboratory that uses human waste to produce energy. It’s called the BeeVi toilet, from the words bee and vision.
Students who use the toilet are rewarded with 10 units of digital currency called Ggool per day. Ggool, which means honey in Korean, can be used at a market on campus to buy items like bananas, stationery, and instant cup noodles.
The BeeVi toilet, a hybrid of the words bee and vision, uses a vacuum pump to send human faeces into an underground tank, reducing water use. There, microorganisms break down the waste to methane, which becomes a source of energy for the building, powering a gas stove, hot-water boiler, and solid oxide fuel cell.
“If we think out of the box, faeces has precious value to make energy and manure. I have put this value into ecological circulation,” Cho said.
An average person defecates about 500g a day, which can be converted to 50 litres of methane gas, the environmental engineer said. This gas could generate 0.5kWh of electricity or be used to drive a car for three-quarters of a mile.
After all, it is an eco-friendly and sustainable device that lets you buy products at the university campus. “I had only ever thought that faeces are dirty, but now it is a treasure of great value to me. I even talk about faeces during mealtimes to think about buying any book I want,” Heo Hui-jin, a student purchasing items at the Ggool market, said.
This invention does not only sound interesting but beneficial too. Well, stay tuned; there is more to come.