The Zero Water Urinals.

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In one area of toilet production, the race to manufacturer toilets that use less and less water has jumped to the finish line. Companies have now begun to manufacture toilets that dispose of urine without using any water at all. They are known variously as the waterless urinals or the zero water urinals.

In 1991, the Waterless Urinal Company patented a design for the world's first waterless urinal. Since then other manufacturers have sought to mimic their feat, and as a result, public restrooms around the world have been filling with more and more waterless urinals.


Waterless urinals have many advantages over their water dependent predecessors. The urinals save as much as 40,000 gallons of water during average use. That's a cost savings of approximately $70.00 -$200.00 a year depending on the local

The urinals save on sewer costs, as well, which are based on the amount of water a building uses. Installation costs are reduced because there is no need to hook up the urinal to the water supply and no need to install and adjust the flush valve. The toilet parts that need periodic replacement are recyclable and installed within a few seconds.

The toilet is sanitary for public use because there is no need to touch it at all. The simple toilet mechanism greatly reduces maintenance costs. There is less vandalism. 90% of vandalism in public restrooms involves tampering with or removal of the flush valve, this toilet has none. Finally, the toilet is environmentally friendly, as it does not require the use of harsh or abrasive chemicals for cleaning.

So how does the waterless urinal work? Urine flows into the bowl and past a debris catching strainer. From there it passes through a floating layer of sealing liquid, made of specially designed oil based fluid, although even vegetable oil would work. The oil, which is denser than urine, floats on top of the urine, and prevents sewer odors from rising into the restroom. Urine, underneath the barrier layer, overflows into a central tube and down to the sewer.

The oil layer is gradually degraded with use. With the waterless urinal company urinals, a few ounces of sealant will last for approximately 1,500 uses. Replacing the fluid takes about 20 seconds, and does not require touching the urinal. The sediment trap should be replaced approximately twice a year depending on traffic. Replacement requires a specially designed tool, so the trap cannot be removed by vandals. The task takes 2-4 minutes. 

Newer waterless urinals models supply the entire urine disposing mechanism in cartridge form. With these models the cartridge must be replaced periodically, when the barrier fluid has become degraded or otherwise disrupted.

It is important to note that the waterless urinals cannot remove the heavy urine smell which comes from urine staining of the bowl and strainers, unless they are cleaned periodically by a janitor. In some cases customers have comlained about the smell.

Customers have also complained that the bowl design results in more urine splashing to the floor, which results in bathroom odor. According to Wikipedia, the EPA building in California removed their waterless urinals after 7 years of employee dissatisfaction. Other large buildings have squashed tenant complaints however, citing the immense financial savings resulting from the reduced water bill.

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