Go to waterless loo for free coffee and biofuel

By Park Sae-jin Posted : May 26, 2016, 10:14 Updated : May 26, 2016, 13:51

A hexagonal toilet pavilion created by UNIST [Courtesy of UNIST]

Students and professors at a prominent South Korean science school will get coffee from their campus cafe at no charge, using their excrement disposed and biodegraded in a waterless loo in  an outdoor pavilion.

The hexagonal toilet pavillion with its outer walls made up of translucent polycarbonate panels has turned up on the campus of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in the southeastern industry city of Ulsan.

On the first floor of the Science Walden Pavillion developed by UNIST researchers is a waterless toilet installed with a grinder and a fan to dry down and comminute human excrement.

A toilet located inside of UNIST's toilet pavilion [Courtesy of UNIST]

A quantity of powdered human manure will be transferred to a digestion tank for microbiological degradation to generate carbon and methane. Using high pressure and membrane, carbon and methane are separated. Methane is stored for heating while carbon is used to culture green algae for biofuel.

The process of turning excrement into energy takes a week, pavilion operators said, adding human manure collected from 100 people generates energy enough to enable Hollywood shower for 18 people.

"Human manure is being discarded and causes an environmental pollution, but it can be used as an important source of energy at this toilet," Cho Jae-weon, a UNIST professor, and project manager,  said in a statement published on the campus homepage.

Visitors to UNIST's toilet pavilion are exhaling carbon dioxide into green algae cultured by using carbon created from the pavilion using powdered human manure [Courtesy of UNIST]

The project is aimed at establishing an ecosystem in which anyone can trade powdered excrement with an imaginary currency, he said, adding the outdoor pavilion provides a comfortable toilet and a roof garden which has a system of purifying rainwater.

The eco-friendly toilet will be used for real life at the UNIST campus from next month. Students can buy a cup of coffee at the campus cafe by trading 200 grams (0.44 lbs) of excrement with imaginary money through their smartphone application.

Cho described it as "a new form of science technology that will not simply save water but will reduce the cost of constructing and operating a sewage disposal plant and produce energy".

Aju News Lim Chang-won = cwlim34@ajunews.com 

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