USU scientists eliminating urinal splashback

LOGAN – Accomplishments made by Utah State University scientists over the years may be too numerous to count. From developing efficient electric vehicles to helping send satellites into space, work done in quiet Logan, Utah has helped change the world. Preventing those embarrassing urine droplets found on the front of khaki pants after using a urinal will soon be another advancement credited to the university.

Two scientists at USU’s Splash Lab – Tadd Truscott and Randy Hurd – have created urinal inserts that will eliminate splashback and keep trousers perfectly dry. Over the next several months the two will be publishing their work and filing for a patent.

As a kid, pleas from his mother to “just sit down” while using the restroom first got Truscott pondering a possible solution, but it wasn’t until four years ago during a caffeine-fueled drive back home from San Diego that he and Hurd got things moving. After several restroom stops the two scientists got talking.

“Of course, that was the topic that just kept coming up,” Truscott said. “We were like, ‘Man what can we do to reduce this splashback problem? Man, our khakis have droplets on them. How do we do this?’ Then suddenly we just both looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s study this.’”

According to Truscott, the pads that are commonly placed in urinals reduce splashback by 10 to 50 percent, but the work done at the Splash Lab has brought the number close to 99.9 percent.

“So we’re off by .1 percent,” he said. “We’re getting it to where there are probably just one or two droplets that are quite, quite small. You would be able to see them really.”

Before the duo started developing the absorbent pant-saving pads, a preliminary study focused on reducing splashback by changing behavior was conducted.

“When (urine droplets) impact on the urinal surface one right after the next they are basically falling onto a thin film of water,” Truscott said. “It’s got just tons of satellite droplets everywhere.”

Those “satellite droplets” can be reduced by standing within six inches of the urinal, close enough that the stream doesn’t break into droplets before impact. The other effective method is to urinate at an angle below 20 degrees of impact. The preliminary study also uncovered some discomforting facts of the splashback pattern.

“When you get some on your feet and your shoes, that isn’t usually yours,” Truscott said. “It’s typically the person next to you. It actually sprays out left and right of you more than directly back on you. It’s really gross to know that, but that’s the case.”

Due to lack of manufacturing ability Truscott said the product won’t be in stores anytime soon, but is hopeful about the future of the invention.

“It has paid off, it has been a lot of fun,” he said. “So many people are affected by it.”

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