Researchers Have Invented a Quieter Less Terrifying Airplane Toilet

first_imgStay on target Watch: Plane Lands on Highway, Gets ‘Pulled Over’ in WashingtonWatch: Wild Turbulence Throws Flight Attendant Into Cabin Ceiling If you’re a frequent flyer, you know how loud airplane toilets could be. Flushing could produce a noise so terrifyingly loud, it almost seems like the whole lavatory is being sucked out through that tiny hole.But changes might be coming: Researchers from Brigham Young University have invented a vacuum-assisted toilet that is about half as loud as the regular airplane commode.“People have told us they don’t want their kids to be scared to use the bathroom on a flight,” said lead researcher Kent Gee, BYU professor of physics. “So, we’ve used good physics to solve the problem.”While aviation tech has developed, the airline industry hasn’t been able to improve vacuum-assisted toilets over the last 25 years. That’s because getting airplane toilets to flush with very little water requires a partial vacuum, which at 38,000 feet, pulls air at nearly half the speed of sound. When things move at that speed, any disturbance at all to the flow — like the bend of a pipe or a valve — generates significant noise.And with cabins now quieter than ever due to newer airplanes, toilet flushes reverberate much more throughout the cabin.“Airline companies have always had standards for the toilet noise, but they’ve never met those and there has never been much pressure to do so,”said Scott Sommerfeldt, BYU professor of mechanical engineering. “Now with the reduced cabin sound levels, the sound of the toilet flushing is more noticeable and customers are pushing back.”To solve the problem, the BYU team focused on three valve conditions during the flush cycle: the initial noise level peak associated with the flush valve opening, an intermediate noise level plateau associated with the valve being fully opened and the final noise level peak associated with the flush valve closing.The researchers added additional piping to increase the distance between the toilet bowl and the flush valve and made the pipe attachment at the bowl more of a gradual bend as opposed to a sharp 90-degree angle.Tests of the new contraption show aeroacoustically-generated noise dropped up to 16 decibels during the flush valve opening and about 5 to 10 decibels when the valve is fully opened.“It’s a great mix between physics and engineering,” said grad student Michael Rose, lead author on the team’s paper published in Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics. “The toilet is much quieter and now kids won’t think they’re going to get sucked out.”The researchers have filed three patents on the new toilet and are now working with an industry partner to bring it to market. The invention works with existing airplane toilets — only the elbow need be removed during a retrofit, while the valve and the bowl can remain where they are.The vacuum-assisted tech could also be used for toilets on cruise ships and trains and even in green building projects where housing units are looking at ways to reduce water usage.More on Geek.com:This $5 Million Solar-Powered Yacht Cruises in ‘Pure Silence’Watch How Virgin Atlantic Engineers Change a Wheel on a Boeing 747This Embraer Shark Plane Has No Dreaded Middle Seatslast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *