The South Korean government has put the lid on a science program that created toilets designed to turn human waste into electricity, heat and digital currency.
The Science Walden project was revealed in July 2021 to the amusement of the crypto community and the wider public – introducing the “BeeVi” toilet that turned human excrement into methane gas and rewarded its “depositors” with a digital currency called Ggool.
However, in a conversation with Cointelegraph, Science Walden head and professor Cho Jae-weon revealed that further development of the BeeVi toilet and its associated Feces Standard Money (FSM) digital currency in February this year has “unfortunately” stopped following the planned end of the project’s five year’s funding.
“My project, Science Walden, unfortunately ended in February this year, with FSM and BeeVi […] I think they thought they supported it enough and think Science Walden should stand on its own two feet to be independent.
Professor Cho noted that there are still a few BeeVi toilets inside the campus at the Science Cabin on the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology campus, but it stands as the only place such a toilet exists now.
Since its invention, BeeVi users have been relieved to earn the digital currency Ggool, a transliteration of the Korean word for honey, and tokens to power the university. The currency could be used to buy items on campus like coffee and snacks, but the marketplace has not been active for almost all of 2022 so far.
South Korean professor Cho Jae-weon invented a toilet that turns poop into energy and pays people in digital currency.
A person defecates ~ 500g/day converted into 50 liters of methane gas which generates 0.5 kWh.
Toilet users earn Ggool, a literal sh3t coin. pic.twitter.com/DCn3WteII5
— Brian Roemmele (@BrianRoemmele) 17 August 2022
Professor Cho explained to Cointelegraph that both the toilet and his FSM system could have been a spark for significant positive change in society if given a chance. He referred to Ggool tokens as a “social good” that exists “as opposed to what we think of as a ‘currency.’
“We ask people to value products, goods, services and even a work of art only in Ggool, without thinking [about] the value in Korean won and US dollars. This is a new way of seeing value in different ways.”
Ggool tokens were designed with a negative interest rate of 7% to discourage hoarding, meaning that earners must regularly liquidate their holdings or risk losing purchasing power.
In addition, 30% of the tokens earned are distributed to other holders upon receipt. Professor Cho said:
“As a result, this is a form of currency that does not support the accumulation of wealth, but is constantly circulated and used.”
FSM and Ggool tokens are not government-backed or blockchain-based entities. Professor Cho believes the program lost its funding because “nobody seems to care.” […] considering that it has a different spirit and philosophy than existing currencies.”
Professor Cho argued that big cities could benefit from the technology by using the waste to produce something useful instead of just emptying the pipes of a centralized water system or releasing it into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas.
Related: Crypto needs an “enabling environment,” says the central bank of the Philippines
For example, he believes there are many possibilities with his technology as the methane it produces can be burned for heat or used for cooking gas.
He admits, however, that such a rollout will require “institutional structure” as well as hefty infrastructure investments.