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BeeVi and Ggool Crypto
Meet the BeeVi – an eco-friendly toilet that will actually pay for your poop! That’s right, your waste doesn’t have to go to waste anymore. For students at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in South Korea, an easy way to buy a snack or a cup off coffee is to simply excuse yourself from class for a quick bathroom break.
An ecological engineering professor at the university, Cho Jae-Weon, came up with the brilliant idea to incentivize students to use the BeeVi and help the environment just by doing what they were already doing every day – pooping. The incentive itself? 10 Ggools, a cryptocurrency developed by Professor Cho just for the BeeVi. The word Ggool translates into ‘honey’ and students can earn Ggools every time nature (or the BeeVi?) calls. Ggools can then be used on campus in exchange for books, food, or coffee, and other student necessities.
Flushing to Eco-Friendliness
Professor Cho’s BeeVi is much more than a way to earn Crypto Ggools, its primary function is in fact its eco-friendliness. Animal and human waste releases mostly methane gas when breaking down, known as biogas. Biogas is then burned to produce electricity. According to Cho, the average human produces roughly 500g (17.6oz) of waste per day which converts into 50 liters of methane gas. This generates 0.5 kWh of electricity – enough to blow-dry 10 heads of hair, power a ceiling fan for ten hours or toast 80 slices of bread!
Cho saw the potential of human waste literally being flushed down the toilet. To solve the problem of wasted waste, he turned his attention to perfecting biogas production and adapted his technique to suit his BeeVi vision. In fact, the ‘Vi’ in BeeVi represents the first two letters of the word vision. The ‘Bee’ has got to be a reference to his Ggool honey – and what a honeypot this venture is, with the students, Cho, and the environment profiting in respective ways. However, Cho maintains that the BeeVi’s function is not to purely make profit, but rather an attempt to perfect an energy-efficient alternative to fossil fuels.
This is also the reason why Cho chose to create his own form of Cryptocurrency rather than use wons, the official currency of South Korea. Rather than spend money on frivolous or wasteful purchases he ensured that students were putting their hard earned Ggools to good use on campus. His plan has an added brilliance – any broke student jumps at the chance to save a few wons wherever they can. The BeeVi is an invention that benefits all through Cho’s careful design.
The Unique Design
There are several BeeVis scattered around the UNIST campus. These toilets are easily identifiable because of their unique flush. Rather than use liters of water, the toilet’s tank uses a vacuum system similar to an airplane toilet. The waste is carried to an underground tank where specific microorganisms are introduced and begin producing methane.
The BeeVi faced its fair share of criticism. The Crypto community had countless jokes and suddenly there seems to once again be a surge in social media popularity. Any publicity is good publicity as they say! But for every BeeVi skeptic there is a supporter out there. This may be the chance the BeeVi has been waiting for to spread its wings and move beyond the UNIST campus.
The BeeVi had a mixed outcome. Eventually it lost popularity. After its release in July of 2021 by Science Walden, a team led by Professor Cho, the project initially took off but was just quickly halted in February of this year with only a handful left on campus and hardly any Ggool spending activity. Professor Cho attributes the BeeVi’s decline to government and blockchain backed businesses.
He commented on the BeeVi’s fate, saying that “it seems nobody cares… considering it has a different spirit and philosophy from existing currencies.” So it seems the problem lay mostly with the Ggool, not with the BeeVi itself. The Ggool’s inability to accumulate into exchangeable wealth was its own downfall. Perhaps a little more support from those with more power and influence could have saved the BeeVi.
Cho maintains that the BeeVi was a success. With more “institutional infrastructure” Cho believes that the BeeVi still has the potential to make a considerable difference to the utilization of waste. The BeeVi provides an environmentally conscious, straightforward alternative to letting waste decompose naturally and without regulation or undergo a complicated and inefficient pipe clearing in sewers. Perhaps with the recent spike in social media attention the BeeVi will make a triumphant return, but this remains to be seen.
With the right infrastructure in place the BeeVi could make a return not only throughout the university but far beyond. Restaurants, schools and other busy public spaces would only help the accumulation of usable methane. With the right incentive and implementation, we could see the BeeVi’s return to the limelight sometime in the future.