This public toilet could pay you to poop, for science and the environment
Public toilets are generally pretty crappy, but researchers have built one at a university in South Korea that might make it fun to drop in, drop trou' and drop anchor. Not only does it look like a nice environment to induce the deuce, but it turns your browns into green energy solutions, and eventually, similar to the OpenBiome project, you might even be paid to poop.
The Science Walden Pavillion, as the scientists call it, is a laboratory/lavatory on the grounds at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in Ulsan, South Korea. The focal/fecal point of the project is a waterless toilet system, which turns your stool into biofuel.
The UNIST toilet uses an anaerobic system, similar to the Loowatt. A grinder inside the toilet dehydrates and breaks the waste down into a dry, odorless powder, which is then transferred to a digestion tank that is home to thousands of different microbes. As they go to work, the compost biodegrades, generating carbon dioxide and methane, which the scientists harvest. The carbon dioxide is used to culture green algae, a common source of biofuel, while the methane can be stored for use as a heating fuel.
It can be an environmental hazard, but we don't have to waste our waste. Over the last few years we've seen some creative methods of recycling and harvesting our leavings, even using it to power buses and spacecraft. This project, like many others, aims to reduce the impact we have on the environment, in terms of both water and energy use.
"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 Director of the Science Walden Pavilion project.
To encourage people to drop their proverbial kids off at this pool, the team is developing a smartphone app that can tell you what your waste is worth, and even pay you a digital currency for it. The idea is that eventually you'll be able to walk in, do the number two, then buy a salad with the money you earned from pooping, made with ingredients grown from previous poopers.
This is just a public demonstration, but the team eventually hopes to expand the technology into wider use.
The Walden Science Pavilion is open to the public daily, at UNIST.