What goes in must come out, especially if it’s chili con carne. So why not use the human waste to help green our planet? The question remains on how to turn the theory into practice. Try the NoMix toilet. It separates your number ones from your number twos right there in the privacy of your home. By doing so, the technology promotes water pollution control and conserves resources. A step up from the widely accepted dual-flushing system for toilets, which allows you to choose between a light or heavy “wash” of your toilet bowl depending on its current content (urine or feces), NoMix simply takes this technology further. Nutrients recovered from urine could be recycled to agriculture (used as fertilizers), and micropollutants could be directly removed.
At first glance, 1% of urine in the total wastewater volume seems like an incredibly low number, but it contains 50-80% of all the nutrients in wastewater. With conventional toilets, these nutrients have to be degraded in complex, hence expensive, operations in wastewater treatment plants. So if there is a way to divide liquids from solids right where the magic happens, it could simplify or even erase the process of nutrient elimination at those plants, according to Eawag, a Swiss aquatic research institute.
Eawag, who explores all kinds of ways to reduce water waste and water pollution, initiated Novaquatis, a cross-cutting project that brought together researchers from the fields of sociology, economics, natural sciences and engineering. They worked closely together with the sanitary technology industry, local authorities and China, a country trying to reinvent itself as green.
The promising result is this NoMix technology. It is not a brand new finding, though. New indeed are the results of an extensive long-term survey in private homes where the toilets were installed, conducted in seven European countries who participated in the NoMix pilot project. According to a recently published article in the journal Environmental Science & Technology the NoMix technology is well accepted.
“Around 80% of users liked the idea, 75−85% were satisfied with design, hygiene, smell, and seating comfort of NoMix-toilets, 85% regarded urine-fertilizers as good idea (50% of farmers), and 70% would purchase such food." There is, of course, also a downside which a lot of green innovations have to deal with: "Only 57% are willing to pay more for a NoMix than conventional toilet or purchase NoMix toilets without subsidies.”
If you are planning on a bathroom renovation, consider this: It might come with a steeper price tag, but the NoMix toilet certainly serves as a great conversation starter at your next dinner party!
Images courtesy of Flickr.