Super slippery toilet is self-cleaning, the physics of logjams


“A robust bio-inspired, liquid, sludge and bacteria-repellent coating that can essentially make a toilet self-cleaning,” is how Tak-Sing Wong describes a recent invention of his research group at the University of Pennsylvania.

The coating is sprayed onto the toilet surface in two steps – the first puts down a layer of hair-like molecules and the second makes those hairs extremely slippery. The team then tested its efficacy using artificial poo – yes, it is available – as well as bacteria commonly found in toilets. Neither were able to stick to the surface. As well as boosting hygiene and reducing odours, the team says that the coating could reduce the water used to flush toilets by 50%.

You can read more in “New, slippery toilet coating provides cleaner flushing, saves water”.

Moving on from toilets to logjams, which aren’t actually jammed according to geoscientists Nakul Deshpande and Benjamin Crosby at Idaho State University in the US. The duo studied a logjam in Idaho’s Big Creek using a number of techniques including time-lapse photography. They charted the motion of the logs in May and June 2016, as the river crested its annual peak. The jam had been formed two years earlier when a snow avalanche pushed dead trees into the river.

Deshpande and Crosby found that the logjam exhibited creep and clogging behaviours that are also seen in some disordered materials. This, they conclude, could provide insights into how to mitigate hazards associated with logjams. You can read more in “Logjams are not jammed: measurements of log motions in Big Creek, Idaho”.

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