After 25 Years, Physicists Have Invented an Airplane Toilet That’s Twice As Quiet
“The toilet is much quieter and now kids won't think they're going to get sucked out,” said lead author Michael Rose.
The ridiculously loud toilets on airplanes rely on vacuum-assisted technology that hasn’t improved in 25 years — but now there's been a breakthrough.
A group of physicists at Brigham Young University spent two years (and “thousands of flushes”) developing an airplane toilet that's about half as loud as the kind travelers have been using for decades. In a study published in Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics, the researchers said the trick was finding a way to minimize the sound of the vacuum necessary for airplane toilets (which use very little water) to flush.
The vacuum of a lavatory toilet has to pull air at nearly half the speed of sound when the plane is at 38,000 feet, and so understandably makes a lot of noise. The new model uses additional piping between the toilet bowl and the flush valve to create a more gradual bend rather than a 90-degree angle.
The researchers report that tests of the new toilet show noise dropped up to 16 decibels.
“Now with the reduced cabin sound levels, the sound of the toilet flushing is more noticeable and customers are pushing back,” researcher Scott Sommerfeldt said in a statement.
While the new invention isn't going to affect your next flight, quieter flushing in the skies is in the future.