Boeing has developed a self-cleaning toilet prototype that uses ultraviolet (UV) light to sanitise its surfaces. Engineers and designers estimate that 99.99 percent of germs are killed with all surfaces disinfected in just three seconds.
The lavatory uses Far UV light, which is different from the UVA or UVB light in tanning beds, and is not harmful to people. Nevertheless, the Far UV light would be activated only when the lavatory is unoccupied.
“We’re trying to alleviate the anxiety we all face when using a restroom that gets a workout during a flight,” said Jeanne Yu, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Director of Environmental Performance. “In the prototype, we position the lights throughout the lavatory so that it floods the touch surfaces like the toilet seat, sink and countertops with the UV light once a person exits the lavatory. This sanitising even helps eliminate odors.”
The cleaning system, which will require further study before it can be offered to airlines, would lift and close the toilet seat by itself so that all surfaces are exposed during the cleaning cycle. The design also incorporates a hands-free tap, soap dispenser, rubbish bin flap, toilet lid and seat and a hand dryer. A hands-free door latch and a vacuum vent system for the floor are also under study, all to keep the lavatory as hygienic as possible between scheduled cleaning.
“Some of the touchless features are already in use on some Boeing airplanes today,” said Yu. “But combining that with the new UV sanitising will give passengers even more protection from germs and make for an even better flying experience.”
Click here for a video demonstration.