Last month, I attended the virtual Disrupt conference, where green technology was one of the hottest topics. The Japan Innovation Pavilion hosted the last session, organized by JETRO San Francisco, the Japan External Trade Organization.

AC Biode, an award-winning patented bio-toilet provider, was one of the three startups pitching on the Japan Innovation virtual stage, in the environment group, alongside PJP Eye LTD (rare metal-free organic carbon battery), and Everblue Technologies (autonomous sailing solution).

Photos courtesy of AC Biode – content from AC Biode presentation

AC Biode presented its patented waterless composting toilet AC Biolet, which uses regular wood chips and circular motion to transform human waste into bio-fertilizer. According to Tadashi Kubo, co-founder, and CEO, AC Biode, the process is chemical-free, odorless, and eliminates the need for a sewage system.  AC Biolet does not require any bacteria, or a specific type of sawdust to work, unlike competitive solutions such as Sun Mar.

Images courtesy of AC Biode – content from AC Biode presentation

In recent years, the demand for waterless composting toilets has significantly increased. The “no-flush movement” is one of the latest hot trends that is responsible for the “unexpected rise of the composting toilet,” according to an article written by Emine Samer in 2019. Since the pandemic began, the trend has intensified due to the skyrocketing demand for RVs and the surge in tiny home sales.

Sun-Mar is listed among the best consumer-grade individual composting toilets for 2021 by Treehugger. AC Biode seems to offer the best price compared to those competitors. Starting at $250 a unit, the Japanese bio-toilet is cheaper than the most affordable product on that list: the $425 Lovable Loo (price as of 10/31/2021). The Sun-Mar unit costs $1799 on Lehman’s website, while the Nature’s Head and Separett Villa products are priced at about $1000.

Besides the consumer product, AC Biode provides larger centralized units that operate with multiple bio-toilets in remote areas. Similarly, Sun-Mar offers a large-capacity central composting system with a patented design that also requires manual rotation. The Bio-drum (see graphic) needs a full ten revolutions every two to three days while in use, according to the Sun-Mar’s representative who replied to my email.

The cheapest AC Biolet ($250), partly made of cardboard (see below), does not have a rotating mechanism. Other non-electric AC Biode products require a bicycle to power the compost rotation (see image below). The number of revolutions and the frequency depend on the humidity and the amount of waste. The downside of Sun-Mar is the necessity of buying their proprietary bulking material, Compost Sure Green, alongside their Microbe Mix and Compost Mix containing microbes and enzymes that activate the composting process.

Product photos courtesy of AC BIODE – content from AC Biode

AC Biode has already built over 3000 toilets worldwide in various locations and is looking for a distributor to enter the U.S. market. The company is based in Tokyo, Luxemburg, and Cambridge, UK.

Photos courtesy of AC Biode

The bio-toilet by AC Biode seems to be a perfect sustainable solution for remote areas with little water, natural disasters, construction sites, nursing homes, ships, natural parks, and pets.

Burning Man, which operated 1,700 chemical porta-potties in 2017, could greatly benefit from the Japanese startup’s green and odorless solutions. The famous Black Rock Desert annual festival is experiencing a significant challenge processing human waste for over 70,000 people inside the National Conservation Area (NCA), where organizers have to respect strict environmental regulations.

The company is also developing the “world’s first standalone AC Battery” (Alternating Current vs. DC Direct Current). Tadashi Kubo confirmed that his startup plans to use the AC Battery to equip the AC Biolet electric products in the future.  I wish that such batteries could also replace the bicycle that powers the composting process for non-electric units.

Images and content by AC Biode – Editor’s note: at Burning Man 2012, mobile toilets were emptied every morning and at the end of the day, the smell was awful ( I was there)

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