A new smooth coating could make the dirtiest parts of your home cleaner,media outlet The Verge reported. The two-part product, developed by researchers at Penn State University, promises to keep the toilet clean, odorless, and potentially create smaller toilet water use in the future.
The results of the study were published this week in the journal Nature Sustainability. Around 37 billion gallons of fresh water are used worldwide every day to flush toilets, the inventors of the new product say. “Human faeces are essentially sticky and viscous, making them adhere to conventional surfaces,” the study’s lead author notes in the paper. “
If people can make the toilet bucket smoother, they need less water to drain the waste into the sewers. This is where new liquid wraps the smooth surface (LESS) appears. LESS consists of two sprayable coatings that can be used on carbon steel, ceramics or other hard surfaces. The first spray is dried into a tiny, hair-like structure so that it is invisible to the naked eye. The second is a lubricant that covers those “hairs” and makes it easy for excreta, water and even bacteria to slip.
Tak Sing Wong, lead author of the paper, told The Verge in an email: “Our coating can be done simply by spraying or wiping it directly on the surface, which is very easy. Home users can apply their own coating. “
The latter is especially important because pathogenic bacteria thrive in human excreta, which is why public health advocates and experts make hygiene a top priority. Removing these bacteria also has a hidden benefit: it can reduce some of the stenchs that are usually associated with bathrooms. Other self-cleaning toilet ideas focus on liquid cleaners or UV lamps to remove bacteria and stains.
To test LESS, the researchers applied the paint to glass and ceramics, and then drip-stained water and “synthetic feces” (seven ingredients, including yeast, peanut oil, etc.) to the coating surface.
One of the things researchers are looking for is durability. The first layer of LESS is permanently bonded to its surface, but the lubrication layer requires fairly frequent repair to maintain its smoothness. The researchers estimate that the coating can be rinsed 500 times. Wong estimates that for a family of four, it may take about every two weeks to reapply the second tier. In a more commercial environment, it must be applied approximately every two to three days.
But what happens when the coating slowly rushes into the sewer system? Wong says the LESS coating contains silicone, which can be broken down into relatively harmless silicon dioxide, water and carbon dioxide in the soil. The team says the widespread use of coatings will help reduce water use, especially in water-scarce areas. They also claim that this may help keep waterless toilets , common in some parts of the world, clean.
Wong and his colleagues set up a company called Spot LESS Materials to bring products to market. A box of products costs $20.