Scientist Invents Toilet That Turns Human Feces Into Cryptocurrency

“IF WE THINK OUT OF THE BOX, FECES HAS PRECIOUS VALUE TO MAKE ENERGY AND MANURE.”

Toilet Generator

A researcher at a university in South Korea has devised a toilet that turns human waste into power, Reuters reports. As a bonus incentive, each use rewards, uh, poopers with a small amount of digital currency that they can trade in for a coffee or a cup of noodles on campus.

The toilet first pumps your excrement into an underground tank, which means it uses less water right off the bat when compared to a traditional toilet. Microorganisms then break down the waste into methane, a usable source of energy.

In short, it’s a delightful new method of turning sewage into power.

Making Manure

“If we think out of the box, feces has precious value to make energy and manure,” inventor Cho Jae-weon, an urban and environmental engineering professor at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), told Reuters. “I have put this value into ecological circulation.”

The toilet could turn roughly a pound of solid human waste, the average amount a human poops in a day, into an impressive 50 liters of methane gas, according to Cho. That means it can generate half a kilowatt hour of electricity, enough to drive an electric car for three quarters of a mile.

And because its 2021 — a day and age in which nothing is safe from the world of cryptocurrencies — Cho came up with a virtual currency called Ggool, or “honey” in Korean. Every use of the toilet scores you 10 Ggool per day, which can be used to buy stuff on the university’s campus.

“I had only ever thought that feces are dirty, but now it is a treasure of great value to me,” a postgraduate student Heo Hui-jin who’s both earned and spent Ggool, told Reuters. “I even talk about feces during mealtimes to think about buying any book I want.”

Microsoft’s Visual Studio Online code editor is now Visual Studio Codespaces and gets a price drop

Image Credits: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

About a year ago, Microsoft  launched Visual Studio Online, its online code editor based on the popular Visual Studio Code project. It’s basically a full code editor and hosted environment that lives in your browser.

Today, the company announced that it is changing the name of this service to Visual Studio Codespaces. It’s also dropping the price of the service by more than 50% and it’s giving developers the option to run it on relatively low-performance virtual machines that will start at $0.08 per hour.

In today’s announcement, Microsoft’s Scott Hanselman points out that the company learned that most developers who used Visual Studio Online thought of it as being much more than simply an editor in the browser.

“To better align with that sentiment, and the true value of the service, we’re renaming Visual Studio Online to Visual Studio Codespaces. (It’s true what they say, naming is hard!) Do you want a great experience working on your long-term project? Do it in a Codespace. Need to quickly prototype a new feature or perform some short-term tasks (like reviewing pull requests)? Create a Codespace! Your Codespaces are simply the most productive place to code.”

The new pricing will go into effect on May 19, the first day of Microsoft’s (virtual) Build developer conference. These are pretty significant price drops, down from $0.45 per hour to $0.17 for a machine with 4 cores and 8 GB of memory, for example (you also incur some relatively minor storage costs of $0.0088 for using a 64 GB SDD, too).

Hanselman also points out that a lot of developers don’t need quite that much power, so the company is now introducing a Basic plan with a 2-core machine and 4 GB of RAM for $0.08 per hour. Best I can tell, these will go live for around $0.24 per hour today and then see a price cut on May 19, too. Why not launch it at the reduced price? Only Microsoft knows, so we asked and will update this post once they tell us.

Typically, this is the kind of announcement Microsoft would make at its annual Build developer conference. And while some other companies have decided to fully scrap their events and aren’t even hosting a virtual conference, Microsoft is moving full steam ahead with its Build conference in the middle of May. I expect we’ll hear more about how that event will play out in the near future.