FranziskaWülker, development engineer at the designer bathroom manufacturer Duravit, designed and developed a ‘Lunar Loo’ for competition that was conducted by NASA…
Developing a toilet that can work in a weightless environment and on the moon, sounds like quite a tricky task! That is why NASA offered a $35,000 prize for the three best designs – for which they received 20,000 proposals from participants around the world.
NASA announced the winners at a ceremony on October 22, 2020, and awarded third prize to Franziska Wülker, development engineer at the designer bathroom manufacturer Duravit. The two first places were awarded to teams from the United States. Franziska Wülker is the female non-American individual engineer who made it to the top three.
Jonny Kim, the Silver Star recipient and NASA astronaut was also present at the ceremony, as he is involved in the Artemis program. This is expected to send the next male and first female astronaut tothe moon in 2024.
Thomas Stammel, Chief Technical Officer at Duravit AG, was delighted, and said: “We are extremely proud that Franziska Wülker was able to conceive and complete such an ingenious project alongside her regular work. The third place award is a considerable achievement and is testament to our expertise in the field of toilet technology.”
The Duravit space toilet is comfortable for both male and female astronauts to use – thanks to its optimised sitting geometry. Suction is used to reliably remove all excretions from the user’s body. Due to the absence of gravity, excretions are fed into a centrifuge, where they are accelerated and deposited in a tank via a screw conveyor.
The geometry of the design and filters guarantees that neither unpleasant odours nor bacteria can escape into the cabin of the spaceship. The toilet system is self-contained, meaning that the safety of the crew is guaranteed even in the event of a power outage, preventing exposure to a vacuum or similar. Despite its ingenious technology, Duravit’s design comes in well below NASA’s specifications in terms of weight and energy consumption.
Duravit deploys state-of-the-art technology in all its research and development, which is enhanced by the experience of the skilled workforce in the development team. Engineers, product developers, and designers work closely on new projects. For example, they utlilise the very latest software used for research in the automotive industry, the aviation and aerospace sector and in universities. For instance this software enables the flow of water to be realistically simulated and visualised, this means that new products can be developed and optimised quickly and efficiently. The company previously used the software in the development of the Duravit Rimless® technology, this offers enhanced hygiene and cleaning comfort thanks to the open design of the flushing rim.
“When developing toilets, we pay close attention to reliable flushing performance and good hygiene. As well as functionality and design, we are also always mindful of current issues such as water consumption,” said development engineer Franziska Wülker. “On our toilets designed for use on earth, we are naturally assisted by gravity, which causes the excrement to fall automatically into the toilet bowl. One of the biggest challenges in the construction of the Lunar Loo was rethinking everything to ensure that the functionality also worked in a weightless environment.”
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Main image credit: Duravit