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July 12, 2021

South Korean professor develops toilet that turns human waste into energy

The BeeVi toilet is connected to a laboratory where human waste is converted to biogas and manure.

By Umesh Ellichipuram

A professor at South Korea’s Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) has developed BeeVi, an eco-friendly toilet that uses human waste to generate electricity to power a building.

The BeeVi toilet, developed by Professor Cho Jae-weon, is equipped with a vacuum pump that sends human waste into an underground tank.

Microorganisms in the tank then convert the waste to methane, which acts as a source of energy for the building and powers a gas stove, hot-water boiler and solid oxide fuel cell.

Professor Jae-weon said that on average, a person defecates almost 500g a day. This can be converted into 50l of methane gas, which can produce 0.5kWh of power or be used to drive a car for around 1.2km.

Human waste is also used to produce manure at the lab.

Professor Jae-weon said: “If we think [outside] the box, faeces has precious value to make energy and manure. I have put this value into ecological circulation.”

Professor Jae-weon has also created a virtual currency, Ggool, which is earned by using the BeeVi toilet.

A person can earn up to ten Ggool a day, which can be used to purchase goods such as freshly brewed coffee or instant cup noodles, fruits and books on campus at UNIST.

In another development, South Korea’s Nuclear Safety and Security Commission has given conditional approval for operations at the 1.4GW Shin-Hanul Number One nuclear power plant.

According to a report by Yonhap News Agency, the nuclear reactor, located in the coastal county of Uljin, was permitted to begin operations one year after the completion.

Approval was given after a review of safety issues, including the power plant’s passive autocatalytic recombiner (PAR) that prevents hydrogen explosions.

The plant faced intense probing after environmental groups raised concerns that its effectiveness was overstated, but Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, which built the plant, said that the system did not have any issues.

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