PooPac: Using Oyster Mushrooms to stop human faeces smelling in UDDTs - A Masters Thesis

  • joshuaurieli
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PooPac: Using Oyster Mushrooms to stop human faeces smelling in UDDTs - A Masters Thesis

Dear Forum
During my masters research (2015-16), I found that Oyster Mushrooms can stop human faeces smelling! My research focused on container based sanitation systems using urine diversion dry toilets. By adding Oyster Mushroom mycelium to the faeces container it is possible to control the smell indefinitely. The result of my masters was PooPac, a bioactive paper bag (containing oyster mushroom mycelium) that suppresses the toilet smell. The biodegradable PooPac is sealed for transport, and directly composted, removing all contact with faeces.


Top: The PooPac as delivered with mushroom cover material. Middle: The Poopac as when in use, shown inside a MoSan toilet. Bottom: Full and sealed PooPac ready for composting.


Masters thesis pdf document
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Slide deck that gives a brief overview of the masters project
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After my masters was completed I spent another half year looking into using oyster mushrooms to control the smell of feaces. There is some indication that by adding certain chemicals, mushrooms could also work in a standard pit latrines. Furthermore, a literature review and unpublished experiments suggest that mushroom mycelium reduces the pathogens in faeces. Oyster Mushrooms have been shown to reduce the population counts of E. coli and other indicator species.


Top: Section cut of a PooPac in use as exhibited at ZHdK. Bottom: WSUP employee explaining how to use the mushroom cover material in a MoSan toilet, in Kisumu, Kenya.



Mushroom technology literature review
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Due to lack of funding and other issues, I have moved on to other projects. So, I would like to share the research, so that anyone in the Susana community may take the work further. Detailed test results and field notes are available on request.

This project was made possible through collaboration with:
The Zurich University of Arts(Zürcher Hochschule der Künste - ZHdK)
MoSan
WSUP
Impact Hub Zurich

I would also like to thank the following organisations for their open interviews and site visits:
Sanivation
Sanergy
EAWAG
X-Runner
Kompotoi

A special thanks to Mona Mijthab, Katie Whitehouse, and Leon Deverick for their collaboration.


I am happy to answer any questions you may have.
Kind Regards,
Joshua Urieli

poopac.ch
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  • AlexanderWinkscha
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Re: PooPac: Using Oyster Mushrooms to stop human faeces smelling in UDDTs - A Masters Thesis

Not gonna lie, Joshua, I really love your post. Content-wise interesting, but especially the way you put it together and share the knowledge and experiences you´ve accumulated!
It works really well as a teaser that makes me want to read the thesis (which is very nicely designed, btw) and the other attachements.

Thanks for sharing this here!
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  • JKMakowka
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Re: PooPac: Using Oyster Mushrooms to stop human faeces smelling in UDDTs - A Masters Thesis

Looks like an excellent and cheap packaging. Two questions though:
  1. Did you do any tests on how well the paper bags deal with the occasional urine getting into the feces compartment?
  2. Do you think the oyster mushrooms could impact any downstream treatment facilities (composting?)

Microbiologist & emergency WASH specialist
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  • joshuaurieli
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Re: PooPac: Using Oyster Mushrooms to stop human faeces smelling in UDDTs - A Masters Thesis

Thanks for the questions Kris!

1. I did not test urine in the paper bag extensively. With one hand made prototype I filled it with increasing amounts of water. From memory: it held fine with 2/3 litres of water, became unstable with 5-6 litres, and broke with 8 litres. However this prototype was made with "water resistant" paper. The intention was to eventually use a paper coated with biodegradable plastic, however I never sourced or tested this material.

2. The oyster mushrooms will impact the downstream treatment. Whether the impact is positive or negative will depend on the downstream treatment process. For composting the impact would theoretically be positive as the mushrooms help to treat the faeces, and adds carbon content to the mixture. However, I never tested this theory.
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  • Tore
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Re: PooPac: Using Oyster Mushrooms to stop human faeces smelling in UDDTs - A Masters Thesis

Is there anyway that the mushrooms could be made edible considering the toxic location?
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Re: PooPac: Using Oyster Mushrooms to stop human faeces smelling in UDDTs - A Masters Thesis

Thanks for the comment Tore. The oyster mushroom fruit is edible and highly nutritious. Theoretically the fruit of oyster mushrooms used for treating human faeces could be eaten.


Source: www.smithymushrooms.co.uk/

However there are some practical issues with the idea:
- Ensuring that the oyster mushroom fruit is well cleaned
- Ensuring that no pharmaceuticals (antibiotics, hormone treatments, etc..) are taken up by the mushroom from the faeces
- Convincing people that it is a good idea to eat mushrooms grown on poop

More feasible would be to:
- Leave the mushrooms in your compost as a fertiliser
- Feed the oyster mushroom fruit to livestock

This does not stop you buying some oyster mushrooms from another source and frying yourself up a delicious meal.


Source: www.thedailymeal.com/grilled-oyster-mushrooms-recipe
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