Sensor-based evaluation of a urine trap toilet in a shared bathroom


Urine diversion in a No-Mix Toilet is a promising approach for sustainable fertilizers and reduction of the nutrient load for wastewater treatment; however, user adoption remains a challenge. This study evaluates the Urine Trap, a passive No-Mix toilet design based on the teapot effect, wherein the urine stream inlet is invisible to the user and therefore it does not impact the user experience for increased adoption.

This study evaluated the nutrient separation performance of a Urine Trap flush toilet in a bathroom shared by women in two sites in India. Over three different testing periods, 841 uses of this squat plate were recorded in 50 days. Analytical measurements found 36 % separation efficiency for total nitrogen (TN). While effective, the Urine Trap under test by users did not yield a 70–80 % TN separation efficiency observed under engineering characterization. High temporal resolution data from sensors on waste collection tanks, the opening of the bathroom door, and cleansing water flow were used to gain insights into hygiene practices. The data showed a frequent habit of wetting the squat plate during physiological excretion, a hygienic practice that eases cleaning but degrades the teapot separation effect of the Urine Trap design. By using sensors, we demonstrate a method to non-invasively gain quantitative insights into hygiene practices to inform sanitation technologies deployment strategies for improved outcomes.