This Toilet Turns Your Shit Into Shitcoins

This Toilet Turns Your Shit Into Shitcoins
Graphic: Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology

In 2021, joke cryptos seem to be in a never-ending turf war to see which one can be the most ridiculous. Aside from the classic DogeCoin, crypto-fans can now try to get rich off of CumCoin, PissCoin, ARSE Tokens, and god knows what else. Now one South Korean professor is taking the trend one step further, with a cryptocurrency that actually pays you to poop. Yes, really.

Cho Jae-weon, an environmental engineering professor at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea, has come up with a prototype for an eco-friendly toilet that rewards the people who use it with a proprietary cryptocurrency, called “Ggool,” meaning “honey” in Korean. Students earn 10 Ggool per day for their “contributions” to the toilet and those coins can be turned in for books or cups of coffee at one of the cafes on campus.

Instead of flushing away waste with the gallons of water that most toilet models use, the so-called BeeVi toilet uses a vacuum pump to suck shit (and anything else) into an underground bioreactor, where microorganisms chew on these pieces of waste and burp out methane that can later be used as heating fuel. A few years back, Cho put out a paper describing how he was able to use the compost and fuel generated by an older version of the BeeVi to cultivate and cook barley sprouts with his students.

“If we think outside of the box, faeces has precious value to make energy and manure,” the professor told Reuters. “I have put this value into ecological circulation.”

Apparently, most of that value is going untapped. In that same Reuters interview, Cho explained that the average person poops about 500 grams (or just over a pound) of waste per day. He added that based on his past BeeVi experiments, this waste can be converted into 50 litres of methane gas, which can generate 0.5kWh of electricity — enough to run one load of dishes in your dishwasher’s “energy saver” mode.

Apparently, using literal ShitCoins to compensate students for being a part of this project is paying off. One postgraduate at the Institute told Reuters that she had “only ever thought that faeces are dirty,” but now they were “a treasure of great value” to her. “I even talk about faeces during mealtimes to think about buying any book I want,” she added.

The bad news is that at least for right now, Ggool can only be redeemed at this one university cafe from using this one toilet at one South Korean university. But if students keep raving about the project, maybe we’ll get to take it for a spin stateside.