Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Penn State start-up develops novel toilet bowl coating to significantly reduce water usage

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 27th, 2019

A spinout from Pennsylvania State University is applying research to reduce the amount of water wasted every time a toilet is flushed. The start-up, spotLESS Materials, has developed a liquid-entrenched smooth surface (LESS) coating that is applied to ceramic toilet bowls to make them extremely smooth and liquid repellent.

“When we put that coating on a toilet in the lab and dump synthetic fecal matter on it, it just completely slides down and nothing sticks to [the toilet],” says Jing Wang, co-developer of the coating and co-founder of spotLESS Materials.

This means that toilets can clean residue and dispose of the waste with only a fraction of the water currently needed. The start-up predicts that the coating could last for roughly 500 flushes in a conventional toilet before it needs to be reapplied.

If it were widely adopted in the U.S., the coating, which takes less than five minutes to cure, could direct the preserved water to drought-stricken areas and developing regions where water is scarce. At home, the coating would address not only unpleasant odors, but also the harmful bacteria that can develop when waste sticks to toilet bowls.

spotLESS Materials has received support from the Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ TechCelerator, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Office of Naval Research, the Rice Business Plan Competition and Y-Combinator.

“Our goal is to bring impactful technology to the market so everyone can benefit,” says Tak-Sing Wong, professor at Penn State and co-founder of spotLESS. “To maximize the impact of our coating technology, we need to get it out of the lab.”

Source: Penn State News

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