Vacuum technology comprises a set of devices, instruments, and the like for creating, maintaining, measuring, and using vacuum for scientific, industrial, and other purposes. Vacuum technology includes, in particular, vacuum pumps, vacuum fittings, pressure measuring instruments ( vacuum gauges ), and leak detectors.
Vacuum technology is applied in the aircraft industry for the design of quieter airplane toilets. Normal airplane toilets use gravitational force to pump the waste in the waste tank. This force is sometimes weakened due to pressure differences between the interior and exterior of the airplane. This is where vacuum technology comes into play as it provides pressure using a vacuum pump to direct waste to a collection tank. This working mechanism is not only efficient but also conservative and relatively cheap to maintain.
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Structure of an airplane vacuum toilet
The design heuristics for these toilets do not differ that much with the normal flush toilets except for few modifications. A toilet bowl is connected to a vacuum pump with an intake valve and a waste collection pipe leading to a waste collection tank. A nano-adhesive or adhesive-reducing coating mounted on the interface surfaces of wastes helps discharge the waste without leaving any traces. The toilet bowl fuses critical air spaces along its sides such that the user cannot be inadvertently harmed by the sudden application of inherent vacuum pressure. This is what constitutes a water-less vacuum-based toilet in an airplane.
Modifications to the normal system
The utilization of airplane vacuum toilets has improved the maintenance cost of the airplane sanitary system. This is because it relieves the burden of carrying a lot of water which is needed for the eviction of waste in the normal systems. Secondly, when waste is shrunk provides more free space in the plane for more stuff. The present vacuum flush systems measure to these standards by using water to wash away the waste. Nevertheless, in terms of usage and familiarity, this new technology is the same as the ordinary technology. The only difference comes in terms of working mechanisms.
The airplane vacuum toilet manufacturers focus on these improvements to make them unique and outstanding:
• Weight and cost of maintenance should be lower;
• The air suction force should be strong enough to dispose of all waste without causing any harm to the user;
• The toilet should make the washroom environment in the plane calmer;
With these aspects, the adoption of this technology would spread out very fast. Moreover, with the usage being similar to the normal systems, the user will not face a hard time adapting to the new technology.
Why airplane toilets quieter than home flushing latrine?
When a plane is at an altitude of 38000 feet above sea level, the partial vacuum applied at flush toilets in an airplane toilets pulls air at almost half the speed of sound. At this speed when the water and waste matter meet obstacles like pipe corners, a significant amount of noise is created. This noise is reduced by the valve at the base of the toilet base. Gradual bending of the pipes as opposed to 90 degrees sharp corners reduce the noise level by 15 decibels.
Benefits of airplane vacuum toilets
• It is reliable even when the aircraft is at high altitudes where gravity is low.
• Due to high pressure, waste can be shrunk to almost a third of its original size and can be disposed of easily.
Disadvantages of airplane vacuum toilets
• It cannot be used to dispose of other forms of waste like plastic, polythene, or paper. If these wastes block the pipes and high pressure is applied then pipes may burst or cause cracks in the waste tank leading to leakage.
Vacuum airplane toilets are rarely used nowadays because they are relatively expensive to install. It is estimated that a single unit may cost between $2000 and $3000. This may be afforded by prominent airplane carriers around the world.
Airplane vacuum toilets for home
For in-flight toilet models that use a normal flash system, it is not possible to install them in the home because they depend on high atmospheric pressure to provide suction. However, for the vacuum-based toilets, it is possible to be installed in a home since the suction is provided by a vacuum pump.
In the case of normal toilets that use gravity as the major source of pressure, there are significant structural restrictions compared to the vacuum-powered mechanism of the present invention that can even use pipes of 2 inches in diameter. This is pretty cool and spares you a lot of resources. Installation is very easy and the various models available are all lightweight. The vacuum device gives precision for positioning the toilet units within the aircraft or home as the drainage lines are not prone to hazards. In case someone wants to install this invention in his/her home, the traditional drainage network, like drain masts, may be reused by attaching it to the vacuum system.