Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Dry Toilet

I think a major practice of our civilization that those in the future will look back on in disgust is our disposal of our digested/egested matter into our water supply.
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The current technology that is employed for camping purposes for dealing with human waste should be applied widely. That is the use of dry or chemical toilets, instead of the conventional Crapper design. Fecael matter would be picked up curbside, along with Uric acid and other Urine salts that have been exposed to a dessicant. This matter would then be refined, egested pharmaceuticals removed along with other biological undesirables and used for either agriculture, energy production (through decompsition and subsequent conversion into natural gases) or other industrial application.
ImBack, Aug 19 2002

Incinolet http://www.incinolet.com/
Burns hotter than jalapeno fire-ass! [Mr Burns, Aug 19 2002]

The experts on composting toilets http://www.clivus.com/
(I don't mean that they're actually *on* the toilet, I just mean that..oh, never mind.) [angel, Aug 20 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]


       Bulk disposal of solid waste is now generally performed by anaerobic fermentation; it's a fairly efficient process, producing useful amounts of methane, and a harmless friable residue which is a good natural fertiliser and remarkably odour-free. However, the process does require a lot of infrastructure - and "wastes" a lot of water. We'll give this a croissant as we think the idea has potential. However, it may already be in research. We'll look for some links
8th of 7, Aug 19 2002

       My current camping crap technology includes leaning against a sizeable tree, and making sure not to step in it when I walk away..   

       They already make incinerator toilets (I believe called "Incin-o-let"), should you be so inclined to limit your solid waste output. A friends lake cottage had one of these because there was no sewer service on the island. 3 weeks of waste was reduced to about two cups of grey ash.
Mr Burns, Aug 19 2002

       This is supposed to be an environmental solution. Burning feces is not the most (in)genius thing to improve environmental conditions, especially on the large scale.
ImBack, Aug 19 2002

       We'd also advocate vacuum dessication as an alternative to incineration.
8th of 7, Aug 19 2002

       Wouldn't burning it make no net carbon contribution to the atmosphere, as the energy can be traced back to photosynthesis in relatively few steps? Or have I forgotten something? [later: fair do's, I neglected the fact that all kinds of other stuff goes up in smoke too]   

       I like the idea of being more efficient and less polluting with our waste. But you'll have to convince me that chemical treatment is any better.
-alx, Aug 19 2002

       Yes you have forgotten soemthing. Look back on your study of carbon reservoirs. Atmosphere is where plants get there carbon, and plants are where animals get theirs and geology is where it should end up. Now, forget all that because carbon is not the only nutrient at issue here. Nitrogen, potassium, sulphur and many more are displaced from their proper place in the nutrient cycle by combustion of things that should not be burnt: Like feces.
ImBack, Aug 19 2002

       Chemical treatment is better, especially dessicants, because chemicals can 'pause' biological processes, like the ones that decompose until later refinement. They can also pause the biological processes that cause the characteristic stink. The dry feces, after dessication, can be easily collected and refined for the good of the environemnt. Don't worry about your precious carbon there will be plenty to melt the icecaps.
ImBack, Aug 19 2002

       ImBack: Fair enough. You missed the obvious "those things use up shitloads of electricity" argument, tho.. one croissant, chemically treated.
Mr Burns, Aug 19 2002

       The problem with burning faeces is that it contains a lot of water so you have to supply heat; its a net cost. However since cowdung is used as fuel in the third world it presumably would work, if you wanted to sun-dry it first. (Ugh, that would be an unpleasant job.)   

       I'm not sure what Imback is suggesting by 'geology'. The carbon cycle is basically atmosphere (mainly as CO2) >> plants >> ([animals etc] >> atmosphere
Only a tiny proportion of the carbon passing through this cycle is mineralised (to form coal, oil peat etc) which basically takes it out of the cycle until it is released by burning, bacterial action or whatever.

       I've heard people make a lot of the cleanliness of the Indian method of cleaning their arses; I suspect this method is only really practicable in such a hot environment.   

       I would certainly favour dry methods such as the soil closet (where a measured amount of fine dry soil covers the excrement - bacteria clean it up and remove the smell). Alternatively, energy production using bio-reactors is I think an excellent practice to be encouraged.   

       The spent sewage would ideally be used as fertiliser for non-food crops - perhaps feeding more bio-reactors. If a dry crop can be produced it could be burnt and the ash would be perfectly acceptable as fertiliser for food crops. (Anyone who balks at this should consider current practice!)
Loris, Aug 20 2002

       Ever hear about composting toilets. Good for the Grass, HMMMMMMMM!
jeffman, Apr 12 2003

       Decades ago, R Buckminster Fuller proposed a dry toilet in which fecal matter would be dropped into an airtight, recyclable plastic (perhaps cornstarch-based?) bag which would be sealed and disposed of in some suitable manner. He may well have had it patented, I haven't looked it up. The idea has merit, and should be developed into a commercial product. I think campers would find it an interesting alternative (providing there is some acceptable definition of "suitable manner" determined). This may also have military applications, in arid countries. Croissant.
whlanteigne, Oct 26 2003


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