The Big Arse Toilet—Spark designs a 3D printed toilet that turns human waste into electricity

MAY 16, 2019 | By Aneesha Bhadri
A render of the skeletal structure of the module
The Big Arse Toilet, so-called given its form

Spark, a Singapore, Shanghai and London based team of designers and thinkers, has developed an easily transportable 3D printed toilet module for public spaces. This bold venture, in answer to the UN initiative to combat open defecation and the associated issues of hygiene and sanitation in India, kills two birds with one stone by providing sanitation facilities and electric power to communities that lack these basic utilities. The toilet modules are printed from a mixture of processed bamboo fibre and gum resin. They are secured to a buried 3D printed reinterpretation of a traditional biogas dome that uses human, animal and vegetable waste to generate and store biogas. The gas, in turn, fuels a micro CHP unit (combined heat and power) to create electricity. The solar pv with atmospheric water generator on top harvests rain water and collects condensed water. Along with a wind turbine generator and microchip plant, the module promises to generate electricity for the community. The monocoque shell of the toilet includes a toilet bowl and basin, while the exterior of the shell can be rendered with varied materials appropriate to the local context.

Spark’s “The Big Arse Toilet” aims to emphasise the importance of eliminating the prevailing practice of open defecation. It also wishes to highlight the benefits of using a natural waste product for readily creating free energy for remote communities. Drones can fly the toilet and its complementary biogas dome to remote locations where they can be docked and assembled with ease. The biogas dome has been crafted to last for a decade, generating enough electricity to power a small community of eight dwellings. SPARK partner Stephen Pimbley says, “SPARK’s self-funded The Big Arse Toilet has been developed to highlight the fact that not enough is being done to provide solutions for vulnerable individuals that are worst affected by lack of access to the level sanitation most take for granted.” A public toilet that is 3D printed, easy to transport and utilises all that accumulated waste to generate power—is there a neater solution to tackle two of the biggest issues faced by India?

The components of the module—the wind turbine generator, toilets, exterior render and biogas dome