Restroom visitors can look forward to cleaner knees and cleaner floors if they use the new urinal inspired by the curves of nature.
The key to making the urinal disperse is making sure that a person’s bladder touches the porcelain at a shallow angle no matter where it is intended, researchers report Nov. 22 at the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting in Indianapolis.
“At a small enough angle, it doesn’t flow,” says mechanical engineer Zhao Pan of the University of Waterloo in Canada. Pan calls the corner, where the sounding, “critical voice” stops. Keeping the angle at which the fluid strikes the surface at or below the critical angle prevents splashing.
Pan and his colleagues’ design — a tall, narrow urinal with a curved internal surface — uses the same geometry as a nautilus shell.SN: 4/1/05). “It’s smooth on the surface,” says Waterloo mechanical engineering student Kaveeshan Thurairajah, which prevents the droplets from flying off.
In experiments on dyed liquids spread on conventional mats, the team found significant results that would naturally end up on a person’s legs and feet and in the area nearby. When the researchers repeated the experiments with prototypes of the new design and looked around the surface, “I couldn’t find a single drop,” says Thurairajah.
It is unclear whether people using the new mats will somehow find a way to mess with it. To test how well urinals work in the real world, Pan says, “just look at the soil.”
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