This loo turns poo into power

Gail Chai

Don’t let a lot of water or your poo just go down the drain.

That’s the idea behind a new toilet system developed by a team of scientists and research assistants from Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Essentially, the team’s ‘No-Mix Vacuum Toilet’ will turn poo into power and saves 90 per cent of water flushed down in a typical toilet.

“Waste is not waste, but a misplaced resource,” said associate professor Wang Jin-Yuan, who led the team. “With this new toilet system, 90 percent of water can be saved, so can you imagine how much water we waste every other day?”

The toilet system has two chambers that separate the liquid and solid wastes and uses a vacuum suction technology, similar to those used in aircraft lavatories.

Liquid waste is diverted to a processing facility where components used for fertilisers such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium can be recovered.

Solid waste is sent to a bioreactor where it will be digested to release bio-gas which contains methane that can replace natural gas used in stoves or converted to electricity.

The team behind the project will be starting a six-month trial in NTU starting next month and will use prototypes that will be installed in two toilets. The trial will test the two chambers that separate the solid and liquid wastes as well as gets feedback from users.

The real deal will be tested out two years from now and discussions have been made to test that system out on a new town in Singapore.

Assistant professor Chang Wei-Chung told Yahoo! Singapore, “If there’s no new build, we will use a retrofit system and modify it to make the new toilet system work but there will be extra piping to be done and it is not one 100 per cent compatible with the new system.” He says that building the new toilet system in a new town would be the best way to go.

The new toilet system is part of a project that has received $10 million from Singapore’s National Research Foundation’s Competitive Research programme.

The scientists have been working on the ‘No-Mix Vacuum Toilet’ since 2010 and have been collaborating with the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Housing Development Board (HDB) since the beginning of the project.