Innovative coating could reduce toilet water consumption by half, increase water sustainability
Every day, more than 141 billion liters of water are used solely to flush toilets. With millions of global citizens experiencing water scarcity, what if that amount could be reduced by 50%?
The possibility may exist through research conducted at Penn State, released today (Nov. 18) in Nature Sustainability.
“Our team has developed a robust bio-inspired, liquid, sludge- and bacteria-repellent coating that can essentially make a toilet self-cleaning,” said Tak-Sing Wong, Wormley Early Career Professor of Engineering and associate professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering.
Penn State researchers have developed a method that dramatically reduces the amount of water needed to flush a conventional toilet — a bio-inspired, liquid, sludge- and bacteria-repellent coating that can essentially make a toilet self-cleaning — described in a paper in Nature Sustainability.
In the Wong Laboratory for Nature Inspired Engineering, housed within the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Materials Research Institute, researchers have developed a method that dramatically reduces the amount of water needed to flush a conventional toilet, which usually requires 6 liters.
Co-developed by Jing Wang, a doctoral graduate from Wong’s lab, the liquid-entrenched smooth surface (LESS) coating is a two-step spray that, among other applications, can be applied to a ceramic toilet bowl. The first spray, created from molecularly grafted polymers, is the initial step in building an extremely smooth and liquid-repellent foundation.
“When it dries, the first spray grows molecules that look like little hairs, with a diameter of about 1,000,000 times thinner than a human’s,” Wang said.
While this first application creates an extremely smooth surface as is, the second spray infuses a thin layer of lubricant around those nanoscopic “hairs” to create a super-slippery surface.
“When we put that coating on a toilet in the lab and dump synthetic fecal matter on it, it (the synthetic fecal matter) just completely slides down and nothing sticks to it (the toilet),” Wang said.
With this novel slippery surface, the toilets can effectively clean residue from inside the bowl and dispose of the waste with only a fraction of the water previously needed. The researchers also predict the coating could last for about 500 flushes in a conventional toilet before a reapplication of the lubricant layer is needed.
While other liquid-infused slippery surfaces can take hours to cure, the LESS two-step coating takes less than five minutes. The researcher’s experiments also found the surface effectively repelled bacteria, particularly ones that spread infectious diseases and unpleasant odors.
If it were widely adopted in the United States, it could direct critical resources toward other important activities, to drought-stricken areas or to regions experiencing chronic water scarcity, said the researchers.
Driven by these humanitarian solutions, the researchers also hope their work can make an impact in the developing world. The technology could be used within waterless toilets, which are used extensively around the world.
“Poop sticking to the toilet is not only unpleasant to users, but it also presents serious health concerns,” Wong said.
However, if a waterless toilet or urinal used the LESS coating, the team predicts these types of fixtures would be more appealing and safer for widespread use.
To address these issues in both the United States and around the world, Wong and his collaborators, Wang, Birgitt Boschitsch, and Nan Sun, all mechanical engineering alumni, began a start-up venture.
With support from the Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ TechCelerator, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Office of Naval Research, the Rice Business Plan Competition and Y-Combinator, their company, spotLESS Materials, is already bringing the LESS coating to market.
“Our goal is to bring impactful technology to the market so everyone can benefit,” Wong said. “To maximize the impact of our coating technology, we need to get it out of the lab.”
Looking forward, the team hopes spotLESS Materials will play a role in sustaining the world’s water resources and continue expanding the reach of their technology.
“As a researcher in an academic setting, my goal is to invent things that everyone can benefit from,” Wong said. “As a Penn Stater, I see this culture being amplified through entrepreneurship, and I’m excited to contribute.”
The Latest on: Liquid-entrenched smooth surface coating
- Researchers Unveil Highly Effective Antiviral, Antibacterial Surface Coatingon January 31, 2024 at 3:01 am
Unlike typical antiviral films that blend metal particles with polymers, the KIST team utilized the sol-gel method to create a silica coating layer ... on the thin film's surface.
- For A Crispier Fried Chicken Coating, Add Some Liquid To Your Flour Dredgeon December 20, 2023 at 9:41 am
Adding some liquid to the flour you dredge your chicken in can work with almost any recipe, and it will take the crisp of your coating to the next level. The concept is pretty simple: Crunchy ...
- Tile with Liquid Entrenched Smooth Surfaces (LESS)on April 19, 2021 at 1:01 am
The new coating, dubbed the liquid-entrenched smooth surface (LESS), is a two-step spray that can be applied to a ceramic toilet bowl. ... With this novel slippery surface, the toilets can effectively ...
- 3D Printering: Print Smoothing Tests With UV Resinon March 8, 2018 at 2:20 am
Besides good old sanding, another method is to apply a liquid coating of some kind that fills in irregularities and creates a smooth surface. There’s even a product specifically for this purpose ...
- Nonstick Coatings Informationon February 11, 2018 at 7:07 am
Many superhydrophobic coatings use nanostructured surface, nanoparticles, nanosized fibrils, or nanorods coated with a very hydrophobic non-polar, hydrocarbon, or wax-like material. Young’s equation ...
- Coating and Spray Booths Specificationson February 11, 2018 at 6:45 am
Spray / Atomization (Wet) A coating process using wet spray paint or fluid coating media where a spray gun directs a coating or paint aerosol toward the part's surface ... mixer to maintain the ...
- Distant Oasison October 23, 2017 at 2:00 am
Europa's frozen, fissured surface, seen here in a colorized mosaic image from the Galileo spacecraft, hides a liquid ocean that may hold all the ingredients needed for life. Three key ingredients ...
- Surface Coatings Groupon December 17, 2016 at 9:22 am
The Surface Coatings Interest Group is one of the Royal Society of Chemistry's many Interest Groups. The Interest Groups are member driven groups which exist to benefit RSC members, and the wider ...
- DIY Powder Coatingon October 25, 2015 at 6:14 am
If you don’t yet have a toaster oven you can’t use with food, here’s yet another reason: DIY powder coating. Powder coating is much harder and more durable than paint – a property imbued ...
via Bing News
The Latest on: Toilet water consumption
- Mexico City's 21 million residents are facing a severe water shortageon March 1, 2024 at 4:01 am
Mexico City is in the grips of a severe water crisis, as lingering drought and years of low rainfall push the city's already-strained water system to the limit.
- One Tech Tip: Don’t use rice for your device. Here’s how to dry out your smartphoneon February 29, 2024 at 12:55 am
Here’s what you need to know if a smartphone gets wet. Dry off the exterior with a towel or clean cloth, even your shirt sleeve — anything that’s absorbent. Take out the SIM card and holder. If ...
- How To Replace a Toileton February 29, 2024 at 12:21 am
Replacing your old toilet with an upgraded low-flow or dual-flush model is an easy way to accomplish that. While at the hardware store, I found the toilet options to be vast. Depending on your needs ...
- Don't use rice to dry out your iPhone, Apple warns. Here's what you should do insteadon February 28, 2024 at 3:59 pm
You were walking next to a swimming pool when you slipped and dropped your phone into the water. Or it slipped out of your hand when you were next to a filled bathtub or toilet ... Don’t use a hair ...
- How you can use greywater on your homesteadon February 23, 2024 at 9:00 pm
Your homestead may be beautifully landscaped for spring, but odds are, you are using a fair amount of water to keep it that way.
- How you can use greywater on your homesteadon February 23, 2024 at 4:00 pm
“It doesn’t make sense to use potable water to irrigate flowers ... with some stipulations. “Toilet flushing is really challenging to do right,” Allen said. “If you put greywater ...
- Is it time to revolutionize the toilet?on February 22, 2024 at 7:37 am
The toilet may not be a darling of the design world, but innovative new solutions to our waste could be key to a more sustainable future.
- EWWWW! Reusable water bottles found to contain more bacteria than a toilet seaton February 21, 2024 at 10:00 pm
If you use a reusable water bottle, you might need to wash it more often ... The average bottle was found to contain more bacteria than a toilet seat. The main types of bacteria found have an ...
- Scottsdale the 'pioneer' of toilet-to-tap water sustainabilityon February 21, 2024 at 4:03 pm
Back in the 1980s after the Groundwater Act was passed, the City of Scottsdale knew they couldn't exist off groundwater alone and needed to bring in other sources.
- Toilet paper vs. water: should you switch?on February 19, 2024 at 1:26 am
Be that as it may, water was always an alternative. The invention of the bidet is attributed to French manufacturers in the 17th century, and it is common in European countries. The use of toilet ...
via Bing News