At our HelpX house in Finland, there’s one loo and it doesn’t flush! And there’s absolutely no reason why it should flush :) This is a superb example of a urine-diverting dry toilet as an integral part of a lovely and clean-smelling bathroom, where it is more than acceptable to modern eyes (and noses!). You sit down on a standard loo seat, and basically (no detail required here ;) liquids land in the front part and run down into a container below, while solids drop straight down through a wider opening, not into water but into a vat below. And amazingly, there’s no nasty smell!
Simple! Or rather, quite ingenious: a system that pulls air into the bathroom from the house, drawing air straight into the toilet, down it and then outside! An extractor fan, installed near the “poo pit” below the toilet, creates a gentle yet constant through-draught under the door into the bathroom, and then down into the loo. The fan, a mere metre or two from the smelly poo box, then pulls the air into pipes that carry it through the outer wall of the house and a good few more metres away (!), so all air in the vicinity of the poo box, and indeed in the bathroom, is constantly being drawn outside the house. The electric fan at Micke’s is currently powered via a standard plug connection, but Micke plans to run it on solar power one day, or maybe link it to his super-duper boiler mechanism if he can somehow harness energy from there.
If anyone reading is starting to consider the benefits of having this kind of loo – the most high-tech compost toilet that I personally have ever seen! – you’ll surely have wondered by now what happens to the waste? The urine bit is easy: it goes down the front section of the bowl, which you rinse (with grey water from elsewhere in the house) by pressing a little button. It runs into a tank and is eventually collected for treatment, after which it can be used as very nutrient-rich fertiliser. But as regards the solids... there’s only so long a vat of poo can sit below your house without needing some kind of attention! You may have saved hundreds or even thousands of litres of water by not flushing the loo... but that vat-emptying job ain’t going to be pleasant!
Well, the good news is that you may not actually have to empty it... just swap it for a fresh tank :) It’s not a job Micke cherishes; the vat of poo at his place currently has to be dragged out across the ground by sheer brute strength, and there’s no lid so the chore is really horrid. He really hopes that in the not-too-distant future he’ll be able to install some kind of runners to enable him to detach the vat, simply wheel it out of position (preferably with a lid on!), and then wheel in a fresh clean vessel to start pooing into ;) The full vat is collected from the house and taken away to a treatment facility, in exchange for a clean, empty tank. To find out what happens to the poo next and what ingenious use it may be put to, see my next post about biogas!