The world still faces a severe water shortage crisis, but more than 141 billion litres of fresh water are used every day to flush toilets,media New Atlas reported. This is almost six times the daily amount of water used by the African population. However, their use may soon decrease by 50 per cent due to the use of new smooth toilet coatings. The liquid-fixed smooth surface (LESS) coating, developed by scientists at Pennsylvania State University, is applied in two steps to standard ceramic toilets.
First, the polymer solution of the molecular graft is sprayed on top. It quickly dries out and grows into a “forest” of tiny hair-like molecules, each about one millionth the diameter of a human hair.
Although the initial treatment had made the inside of the toilet barrel very slippery, the researchers then sprayed a second spray, injecting a thin layer of lubricant around the hairy molecules. The entire two-step process takes less than 5 minutes and the resulting coating should be sufficient for about 500 rinses before the lubricant needs to be applied again.
In laboratory tests, synthetic feces slipped from inside the toilet that was treated by LESS. This means that only a “small fraction” of the usual amount of water can be used to drain excreta from the toilet into the sewer.
As an added benefit, the researchers also found that the coating rejects bacteria that can spread disease or cause unpleasant smells. Given these features, the researchers now hope that the technology will not only make flush toilets more water-efficient, but also make waterless toilets, widely used in many parts of the world, more hygienic.
Pennsylvania State’s SpotLESS Materials is commercializing the coating. A paper on the study led by Professor Huang Decheng was recently published in the journal Nature Sustainability.