Innovation Anthology

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Program ID: Innovation Anthology #859
Program Date: 04/06/2017
Program Category: Alberta, Health and Medicine, Water

Dr Nicholas Ashbolt 2017: Vacuum Flush Systems For Homes And Hospitals

Dr. Nicholas Ashbolt holds the Alberta Innovates Translational Health Chair in Water at the University of Alberta.

His research on waterborne pathogens suggests our current plumbing supports the growth of germs and then sends them into the air like a giant sneeze when the toilet is flushed.

Dr Ashbolt believes the use of "vacuum" rather than gravity systems could eliminate that problem.

DR NICHOLAS ASHBOLT:  So there are toilets that are vacuum  flushed that most people may have come across on boats, on trains and in aircraft.  They are a very wise investment in a hospital because when you flush a toilet you aerosolize whatever pathogens the person before had excreted to some degree into the air.   So the next person coming into that room or facility will touch surfaces or breathe in the air with those pathogens. But with a vacuum flush toilet, only a half a litre or so of water is used, which saves water, and 60 litres of air is used to move that residual down the sewer.  That's a much, much safer scenario.  

Dr Nicholas Ashbolt says another benefit to adopting a vacuum system is the ability to capture imbedded energy from the waste stream or black water.


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