August 15, 2012

Caltech Wins Eco-Friendly Toilet Competition

Theodoric Meyer, writing for The Seattle Times, describes the winning design from Caltech:

“The winning design looks like a regular toilet, at least above ground. After use, the waste is flushed down to a holding tank under the floor, where the solid material sinks to the bottom. When the liquid reaches a certain level, it flows through a tube into a ‘sun-powered electrochemical reactor.’ The reaction oxidizes the chloride in the urine, killing microorganisms in it.”

(Via The Verge.)

Howard Wolowitz had a hand in this, I'm sure.

The article goes on to describe the capture of waste hydrogen from the process, and how the entire mechanism is solar powered.

Flush toilets are taken for granted in the developed world, where water is usually plentiful and bathrooms become designer fetishes for even DIY home renovators. With a little more thought, though, imagine the benefit to be had by integrating Caltech's creation into new home toilet installations.

A small, high-efficiency solar cell on the roof and a hydrogen collection tank and generator in the basement could perhaps harness enough waste energy to power the home's lighter appliances or lights, reducing the owner's grid consumption to major appliances.

How much further could these ideas be pushed?