Physicists are quite close to designing a “urine black hole.” The design will allow men to urinate while standing without fear of the much dreaded splash back.
Men who prefer to pee while standing have always run the risk of getting pee stains on their trousers. The problem becomes pronounced for people who wear khaki colored trousers. The urine stains on khaki look quite prominent. For years, urinal and bathroom fitting companies have struggled to come up with designs that eliminate or at least minimize the backsplash. While they have succeeded to a certain degree, companies haven’t been able to successfully create a “urine black hole,” said the physicists who are very near a breakthrough in coming up with a way to ensure there is no back splash, which is the primary reason for pee stains, reported Improbable Research.
The introduction to the abstract for recent work in urine splash dynamics by Tadd Truscott, director of Utah State University’s Splash Lab and his graduate student, Randy Hurd. Hurd begins by highlighting the problem.
“Since the mid-19th century, both enlisted and fashion-conscious owners of khaki trousers have been plagued by undesired speckle patterns resulting from splash back while urinating.”
Truscott and Hurd put forth their observations and results of study earlier this week at a meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics in Boston.
To understand the fluid dynamics behind urinal streams that, if improperly executed, lead to stains on the trousers, Splash Labs had posted a very scientifically produced video of how to minimize splash back. The company also offered tips on how men could avoid pee stains with urine backsplash while relieving themselves in restrooms, reported Gizmodo.
Unsurprisingly, the most ideal way to ensure zero stains is to sit down to pee. Sitting on the toilet ensures there’s minimal distance for the urine to cover before it hits the bowl. The lesser the distance, the lower is the possibility of a strong splash back. Moreover, the design of the bowel could be considered as a spiral “black hole” that directs the urine down and ensures little to none ends up on the trousers.
While this may seem odd, Splash Labs conducted an informal survey of willing male participants and surprisingly, quite a few indicated they preferred the “sit down” or “hands-free” method. The chances of men sitting down to urinate increased when they needed their hands to do other tasks like holding a book or playing a game on a handheld device or smartphone.
However, for those men who prefer the standing technique, physicists advise to stand as close to the urinal as possible. While this may seem detrimental to the ultimate goal of minimizing the chances of a splash back, the physicists recommend directing the stream at a downward angle. The combined effect of standing close and directing stream towards back of the urinal ensures the urine has less kinetic energy to bounce back.
Since quite a few men have the flamboyant habit of standing way back to urinate, Truscott and Hurd chose to work on urinal inserts, the colorful pads with either honeycomb patterns or arrays of miniature pillars, to create the ultimate “urinal black hole.”
The team has reportedly found inspiration in nature. The duo studied a type of super-absorbent moss (Syntrichia caninervis) that thrives in very dry climates. Since it has to collect and retain the already scarce water in the desert, the moss has evolved into an excellent system that pulls in water quickly. The tiny structures on the moss make it an ultra-efficient water-retainer, said the scientists.
“Its structure allows the droplets to sink deeply in and deforms around the droplet to reduce splashing.”
Similar to a black hole that attracts and traps anything that ventures near it, the urinal insert Truscott and Hurd have been designing, pulls in urine and prevents it from splashing back. Besides preventing backsplash, the understanding of how system works could help scientists in other regions that have similar demands.
[Photo by Wang Zhao / Getty Images, Ur-In-Goal]