South Korea has been vigorously developing green energy, such as biomass energy, as well as promoting the use of virtual currencies. If the efforts to promote green energy and virtual currencies were to be combined together, what would be the result? A research team at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) has recently tried to play around with this idea, and what it has come up with is rather interesting: according to the research team, it has devised a way for people to generate power while using a specially designed toilet, and it is encouraging them to use these toilets by giving away free virtual money.
So how does one generate value in the toilet? The answer is simple: with the power generated from their excrement. Human waste is a form of biomass energy. The feces produce methane after microbial decomposition, and methane is a main component in natural gas that can be used to supply power for gas and water heaters, or generate power through solid oxide fuel cells. The power that is generated from these processes all have economical value.
Based on this fundamental principle, the research team at UNIST believes that feces are precious resources that are able to produce energy and can be used as fertilizers after decomposition. The research team has developed the BeeVi toilet accordingly in the hopes of incorporating the economical and ecological “values” of feces.
When using the BeeVi toilet, the excrement is sucked into an underground septic tank by a vacuum pump, which preserves water resources and energy by eliminating the need of flushing. The research team commented that an average of 500g of human waste each day would produce 50L of methane upon microbial decomposition in the septic tank, and generate 0.5kWh of power through solid oxide fuel cells. This is enough to let an electric vehicle drive for approximately 1.2km.
To generate interests among the students of UNIST, the research team had announced that it would award a digital currency called “Ggool” to anyone who uses the BeeVi toilet. Using the BeeVi toilet would allow one to receive as many as 10 “Ggool” points each day. The currency can be used for coffee, instant noodles, fruits, or books upon scanning the QR code available within the campus of UNIST.
The research team commented that human feces have now finally become “gold”, and students can buy whatever books they wish simply by sitting on the toilet. A standardization of a technology like this will perhaps exterminate indiscriminate urination and defecation.
(Cover photo source: pixabay)