Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Barbecue Toilets (For Future Lunar Bases?)

SpaceToys.com Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas

(Hat Tip: Gizmodo, Image Credit: Mark Martinez of the Orange County Register)

Contrary to popular opinion, the first lunar bases on the Moon may not have that much space. Even though we often imagine large inflatable outposts, the first lunar settlements may be nothing more than "hi-tech mobile homes," giving astronauts the bare essentials to survive on that barren world.

Whether one intends to stay for one month or six, the Moon's future inhabitants are going to produce a lot of "number two's" (note: and by that this author does not mean second in command).

Instead of attempting to recycle them for fertilizer, humanity may be better off by "baking" their waste into dust and ashes.

(OC Register) The EcoJohn Sr. is a waterless, incinerating toilet certified for safety by Underwriters Laboratories, which initially compared it to a barbecue during the certification process. It's officially classified as a gas-fired toilet. [...]

After a user does his business, he closes the lid and a large, screw-like auger turns and carries the waste to the burn chamber where the propane burner then bakes urine, feces and paper into ashes.

"With this, if you have a family of four for a year and half, you get about a cup of white ash," company president Frank Jacobsonsaid. "And because it's burnt so intensely, you can take it and put it in a flower bed or outside or just dump it in the trash can. It's completely biodegradable, so there's not a problem for disposal."

With water already being scarce on the Moon, the last thing astronauts want to use this liquid gold for is flushing their byproducts elsewhere. Instead, future lunar settlers (and perhaps even deep space craft) could consider using these units, as it would help NASA (and others) save on installing some serious plumbing.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

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