The technological wonder of having a toilet more slippery than Teflon

"We are very happy to see how easily stool slides across our coated surface," explained Tak-Sing Wong of Pennsylvania State University, demonstrating two things: that there is nothing freer than happiness and that science has a lot to contribute in the most unexpected things.

Because, while it may seem almost comical, developing a spray toilet bowl capable of reducing even the stickiest excrement adhesion by up to 90% has tremendous potential. Above all, in developing countries.

The slippery slope

Paul Green

In 2015, researchers at Cranfield University in the UK called Wong to ask about a toilet. It goes without saying that all the knowledge that Wong could have of the world was at the user level. But he did know (and a lot) about ways to repel goo.

In Cranfield, as they tried to design a user-friendly toilet in countries with water stress problems and poor sanitation, they realized that there was a lot of waste accumulating in them that made them a focus of infection.

The result of the collaboration is a spray called "Less" (Liquid Entrenched Smooth Surface). The system has two parts: a base layer that adheres to the surface of the toilet and has a series of nano hairs a billion thinner than a human hair; and a thin layer of silicone oil that makes the substances slip, but is trapped by nano-hairs. And all in less than five minutes.

The funniest thing, anyway, was the tests they needed to see if the results were good. At first, they imitated the fecal drop with a device that poured material of different textures at a 45-degree angle at a height of 40 centimeters. But they subsequently collected the feces of three volunteers to test the system as realistically as possible.

Natural or artificial, the researchers measured the amount of water needed to clean the surfaces of them. And the results, as published by Nature Sustainability, point to a 90% improvement over an uncoated toilet. More than 141 billion liters of fresh water are used to flush toilets every day, reducing that amount by 90% may be the best news that global public health has received in quite some time.

Picture Gabor Monori

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