It’s something that many children fear, but airplane toilets could soon be much less intimidating to youngsters.
Scientists from Brigham Young University have invented a new plane toilet that’s half as loud as current toilets.
Professor Kent Gee, who led the study, said: “People have told us they don't want their kids to be scared to use the bathroom on a flight.
”So, we've used good physics to solve the problem."
While you might think that developing a quieter toilet would be fairly simply, it was actually a complex challenge.
The new toilet could make flying less scary for children
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When a plane is in the air, it pulls waste through the toilet at nearly half the speed of sound, generating significant noise.
Scott Sommerfeldt, co-author of the study, said: “Airline companies have always had standards for the toilet noise, but they've never met those and there has never been much pressure to do so.
“Now with the reduced cabin sound levels, the sound of the toilet flushing is more noticeable and customers are pushing back.”
The researchers focused on three stages during the flush cycle – the initial noise created as the flush valve opens, an intermediate noise as the valve is fully opened, and the final noise as the valve closes.
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To reduce the noise, the researchers added additional piping to increase the distance between the toilet bowl and flush valve, and moved the pipe attachment at the bowl to a more gradual bend, rather thant he current 90-degree angle.
During testing, these changes halved the amount of noise compared to standard airplane toilets.
Michael Rose, who led the study, said: “It's a great mix between physics and engineering. The toilet is much quieter and now kids won't think they're going to get sucked out."
Best of all, the new pipes can easily be added to existing toilets, meaning they wouldn’t be difficult or expensive to implement.
It remains unclear how or when the team plans to approach airlines about the new toilet technology.
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