Toilet tech is no longer the oft-overlooked subject it once was, and much of that is thanks to the Gates Foundation, which has made helping the 3.5 billion people lacking access to clean toilets one of its main missions. But how does one test the durability of potential cost-effective commodes? By using fake poop, of course.
During the Gates Foundation's 2012 Reinvent the Toilet Fair — a competition that encouraged local inventors to create inexpensive and hygienic waterless toilets — organisers obviously couldn't ask all the participants to fill their toilets with round after round of test poops. Instead, the Gates Foundation looked to the engineered excrement of Maximum Performance, a company whose sole mission is to create the best damn fake poop this world has to offer.
As Fast.Co explains, the fake poop — which is created with the very same types of machines that create your breakfast sausage (sorry) — is nothing more than a mixture of soybean paste and rice that's then flushed down the prospective toilet along with the accompanying wads of toilet paper. As Maximum Performance told Fast.Co:
The soy mixture was chosen after extensive testing. It is purchased in bulk in large containers and then mixed with whatever is needed to achieve the specified formula. For example, if it comes from the supplier too dry, then mix with a small bit of water. If it comes too moist, then it is mixed with a powdered version to reduce the moisture content. The soy and rice mixture is the closest thing we have found to 'the real thing' both in weight as well as the way it begins to break apart when flushed.
And they're doing noble work. When they first began their tests in 2003, most toilets could only flush down 335 grams of waste in a single shot. Today, a single flush can take down over 650 grams — that's a lot of shit. To put that in perspective, the average maximum male faecal size is around 250 grams.
Now, thanks in part to the 50 gallons of test poop used by the Gates Foundation, the safe, clean toilets the developing world so desperately needs are much closer to reality. So the next time you're taking care of the real deal, don't forget to think of all the fake stuff that goes into making a clean flush possible for everyone. [Fast.Co]