The Public Toilet That Turns Waste Into Renewable Energy

public bathroom
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Believe it or not, using a public toilet can actually be good for the environment.

Researchers in South Korea have created an almost completely waterless toilet system that can turn human waste into energy.

The bathroom is located within the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and features an anaerobic system that breaks down the remains into dehydrated, odorless powder. 

This compost is then fed to a microbial reactor that is digested by microorganisms, which releases carbon dioxide and methane that is harvested by the scientists.

The carbon dioxide is used to make biofuel, while the methane is stored to use as heat energy.

This project’s goal is to reduce the carbon footprint, 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," said the director of the project at UNIST.

To encourage more people to use the eco-friendly bathroom, researchers also developed a smartphone app that assesses a monetary value to your waste and pays you that amount in digital currency. 

People can then use the money on the app to purchase food and other items within the university. So it actually pays to go to the bathroom too.

While this entire experiment is in its early stages, if successful, scientists hope to roll out more of the eco-friendly toilets for wider use outside the university.