Since I started working here, I've written more about toilets than I ever dreamed possible. But one thing has captured my imagination about them: the idea of recycling the waste. The Boston Globe has an interesting article on the concept and the movement. Turns out urine is filled with nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, three ingredients in artificial fertilizer. Feces also have these components in lesser amounts but produce methane, which can burned and used as "biogas." And in these days of high energy and fertilizer prices, people are looking to maximize efficiency in every way possible.
The article talks about several concepts, including toilet technology to separate urine from feces and vacuum-based biogas toilets. It also traces the history of sanitation and the problem of retrofitting our existing system. Overall, it's a great read about something we don't spend a lot of time talking or thinking about.