technology waste

Propelair’s air flushing toilet

Yesterday I wrote about water shortages, and how climate change was one of several factors ramping up pressure on global fresh water supplies. Here’s one technology that might help: the air-flushing toilet from PropelAir.

I came across this at Ecobuild last week. It’s been around for a while, and I was surprised that I haven’t heard of it before, given my research into new forms of toilet. There’s nothing so perverse as using drinking quality water to flush away waste, but most people don’t want a composting or dehydrating toilet. At least, not in Britain. They’re a perfect appropriate technology for those currently using pit latrines, but harder to retrofit to a typical British home, even if people wanted them. But here’s an alternative that most of us could fit.

PropelAir toilets use 1.5 litres per flush, 84% less than the UK average, by accelerated the water with a  blast of air. They are marketed to places where there is high usage, such as shopping centres, theatres or offices, and the savings can pay for the toilet in as little as a year.

The financial savings are useful to businesses and councils. I naturally thought of the water savings, especially in places like Cape Town or California. This kind of toilet can be fitted in a domestic bathroom. Unlike the ecological toilets mentioned above, this one could be retrofitted into existing plumbing. In areas of water stress, it makes good sense. In fact, there are a number of different features that make it an improvement on what you probably have at home, so it would be an upgrade for most of us.

How much water would it save? In Britain the average person uses 142 litres of water a day, 22% of which is on toilets. It’s the second biggest use of water after showers and baths at 25%. That could make a considerably difference if Britain starts to experience more droughts in future.


  1. A bit late but I wonder how much water is saved by giving up toilet paper and using bidets? I use a small bottle bidet and towels and feel much more clean doing it this way than the old. Combine it with low flush or no flush and it must come out way ahead.

    1. Hmm, no idea. Bidets are rare in Britain, but were commonly fitted in Madagascar and we had one in our house when I was a child. The water would mainly be saved during the paper making process presumably, which is going to be hard to quantify.

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