As a kid, you’ve probably heard one of your parents say that they don’t, ahem, poop money. Brace yourself—technology’s about to make that possible. Just recently, researchers from a university in South Korea have revealed that they are working on a toilet that turns human feces into digital cryptocurrency.
Well, to be more specific, the poop people drop would be used for power, and the user would then be given a reward for each use. Willing test subjects would be able to use the currency to purchase a cup of coffee or some noodles around campus, which is a pretty cool reward for doing your business.
So you’re probably wondering how this fantastical new contraption works. First, of course, a user would have to sit on the toilet to do their number 2. When the user is finished doing their business, the toilet would bring down their waste into an underground tank. There, it would be broken down into methane, which is a viable energy source. Currently, the energy source is being used to power some spaces in the university.
While the idea may seem icky, inventor and environmental engineering professor Cho Jae-weon encourages people to look outside conventional methods of producing energy, saying: “If we think out of the box, feces has precious value to make energy and manure.” Methane production is not a new thing—researchers have been able to produce biogas by treating animal manure with natural bacteria. Since we can derive methane gas from the feces of other animals, why not try doing the same for human waste? After all, we are the most populous animals on Earth.
The crypto toilet has the power to turn a pound of feces into 50 liters of methane gas. This amount is what a human would typically excrete in a day, so just think that you’re providing a valuable resource for energy every time you go. Fifty liters of methane gas is equivalent to half a kilowatt-hour of energy, which is pretty sizable, all things considered.
To further incentivize people to use the crypto toilet, Cho decided to develop a digital currency called Ggool, which is Korean for “honey”. With every use of the toilet, people get 10 Ggool, which they can use to purchase stuff around campus. So far, willing test subjects have been able to purchase their school books and food, which certainly help cut down on expenses they would’ve needed to pay for using fiat currency.
Pooping is a natural bodily function, and it’s something almost every human does daily. Since we are all trying to find more sustainable ways to produce energy and protect the planet, this crypto toilet may just be the key to helping us achieve our goals. For now, we have to wait and see until Cho Jae-weon and his team finish fine-tuning the contraption, but just imagine what it can do once it’s ready to be distributed to the rest of the world!
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