Cho Jae-weon, a professor of environmental engineering at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in South Korea, has designed a device that produces energy from human faeces, and rewards those who use it.
The device is a toilet that sends poop to an underground tank where it's broken down by microorganisms into methane that "becomes a source of energy for the building, powering a gas stove, hot-water boiler and solid oxide fuel cell," according to Reuters.
The toilet is called "BeeVi," which is a portmanteau for "bee" and "vision"; the poop is delivered to the tank by a vacuum pump, which helps reduce the use of water for flushing.
At this South Korean university, students using the eco-friendly BeeVi toilet can earn digital currency that can be used to buy coffee, fruits or books on campus https://t.co/TVqs2cw0zb pic.twitter.com/D6RG3R0eO9— Reuters (@Reuters) July 9, 2021
"If we think out of the box, faeces has precious value to make energy and manure. I have put this value into ecological circulation," Cho said.
The professor also remarked that the daily amount of excrement produced by an average human, about half a kilogram, can be converted into around 50 litres of methane that, in turn, can be used to generate either 0.5kWh worth of electricity or provide enough fuel for a car to travel for about 1.2 km.
Cho also introduced a virtual currency called Ggool (Korean for "honey") – each person who uses his device receives 10 units per day. Ggool can be used by students to purchase various items on campus, such as coffee, instant cup noodles, and even books.
"I had only ever thought that faeces are dirty, but now it is a treasure of great value to me," Heo Hui-jin, a postgraduate student, said as quoted by the media outlet. "I even talk about faeces during mealtimes to think about buying any book I want."