A professor at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in South Korea basically turned led into gold. The toilet he created uses human feces “to produce biogas and manure.” Not only that, every person using it gets paid in “a virtual currency called Ggool, which means honey in Korean.” That’s right, this eco-friendly invention turns excrement into energy and currency. What will Elon Musk say now?
Among all the controversy about Bitcoin’s energy usage, we at Bitcoinist maintained a simple stance: Bitcoin incentivizes green energy. It is the incentive that the world needed to develop new, cleaner, energy sources. Is this an example of such an invention? Not really. But it may be a sign of things to come. A hilarious sign.
How Does The Energy-Producing Toilet Work?
For the technical talk, we pass the mic to Reuters. They also have pictures and video of the device in action.
The BeeVi toilet – a portmanteau of the words bee and vision – uses a vacuum pump to send faeces into an underground tank, reducing water use. There, microorganisms break down the waste to methane, which becomes a source of energy for the building, powering a gas stove, hot-water boiler and solid oxide fuel cell.
So, bee + vision. Now we know why the digital currency they created is called “Ggool, which means honey in Korean.” However, before going into the pseudo-cryptocurrency aspect of the invention, how much energy can it really produce? Is this a vanity project or does it have real-world implications? Well, according to professor Cho Jae-weon:
An average person defecates about 500g a day, which can be converted to 50 litres of methane gas, the environmental engineer said. This gas can generate 0.5kWh of electricity or be used to drive a car for about 1.2km (0.75 miles).
What Can Users Buy With The Ggool digital currency?
So far, the Ggool coin hasn’t been listed in any exchange. Its only use so far is powering a small economy inside the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology. Each person that is part of the project “earns 10 Ggool a day” for using the toilet. What can they do with their Ggool?
Students can use the currency to buy goods on campus, from freshly brewed coffee to instant cup noodles, fruits and books. The students can pick up the products they want at a shop and scan a QR code to pay with Ggool.
So, the coin is not exactly a cryptocurrency. It doesn’t require mining and the only way to get it is using the BeeVi toilet. The digital currency only powers a small economy inside a campus, so there’s no problem if it’s centralized.
However, is this a sign of things to come? Could something similar mix with cryptocurrencies in the future?
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What Else Do We Know About The BeeVi Toilet?
In a 2016 academic paper, that Bitcoinist could luckily find in English, the authors frame the project inside a broader and more artistic endeavor. The project aims to explore “the Convergence of Environmental Technologies with Design and Art.” About the toilet, they say:
There are three types of Beevi toilet in the pavilion; the first is a commercialized unit with which we can convert feces into compost in approximately one week, the second is a designed and fabricated unit that can produce powder out of fresh feces in about 30 min to 1 h, and the last is not intended as a toilet but as an exhibition of a model design and sitting experience. We opened our restroom to the public, available for viewing with a reservation, so that visitors can experience and obtain an FSM currency called Ggool.
That FSM there stands for “feces standard money.” Enough said.
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