Reading Salon this afternoon, after taking my lunchtime stroll through Pioneer Square, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the headline: “SanFran takes its public urination problem and turns into a public urination solution”.
The solution? It’s called the PPlanter, and it’s the work of an Oakland, California-based outfit known as Hyphae Design Laboratory.
Accordingo to GizMag (which is the source Salon relies on for the story), here’s how it works:
A user steps up and pees into the actual urinal itself, with their mid-section hidden by a privacy panel (disposable funnels are provided for women, so they can do their business standing up). When they’re done, they use a foot pump to draw water from an attached reservoir through the faucet of a built-in sink, allowing them to wash their hands.
Once it’s gone down the drain, the used wash water rinses out the urinal, with the urine and water then carried into an airtight tank. From there, the mixed liquid is pumped into the planter/biofilter, where bamboo plants are growing in a mixture of rocks, wood chips and styrofoam. The water, nitrogen and phosphorous are used by the bamboo, while bacteria living in the growing medium break down carbohydrates and protein. There is reportedly little if any smell.
Less piss smell and more city bamboo? Sign me up.
According to GizMag, the city of San Francisco has ordered a PPlanter after a prototype was “tested in a crowded San Francisco neighborhood, where it stood up to use by over 300 people within an 8-hour period.” Hyphae Design Laboratory apparently hopes to take its invention to developing countries, as well as get them in more streets across the country.
GizMag has photos of people relieving themselves and diagrams of the science behind the magical pisser here.