Innovator… needed: Oradean Teodor Gomboș invented the first automatic dry ecological toilet, with sawdust instead of water.
Who would have imagined that the world’s oldest “throne” could still be innovated? Teodor Gomboş from Oradea hopes that he will become a successful businessman, thanks to a unique product that he put up for sale: a toilet that uses sawdust instead of water.
With enthusiasm and courage, he launched himself into the business world as the world’s first manufacturer of sawdust-based and fully automated ecological toilets, whose waste does not need to be cleaned, but can become fertilizer. Instead of flushing the water, the user just watches as the toilet is “washed” with sawdust.
After graduating from Aurel Lazar High School, Teodor Gomboş (pictured) went to college to major in Medical Physics, because he knew that his parents, simple people from the village of Vârciorog, wanted him to be a doctor. “I was studying well and I thought it was a specialization that suited me,” says the young man, now 25 years old. He was still a student when he realized that he would not practice as a physicist in hospitals, because he had no desire for this field.
Instead, he was more concerned with volunteer activities, especially in the area of ecology and civic actions. A member of the Students’ Union of Oradea, an association where he was vice-president, he participated in numerous cleaning actions on the banks of the Crişului Repede, convinced that Oradea deserves to be cleaner. “Once, a lady came to thank us while we were cleaning. She had tears in her eyes, because her dog died after eating something from the banks of the Crișului, and she was happy that someone was cleaning, so that other dogs wouldn’t the same thing happens again. Such events make me happy”, says Teo.
An even more ecological toilet
Determined to be an entrepreneur, but not knowing clearly what business to start, the young man was inspired by a friend, who told him that he saw, at a Christmas market in Vienna, a special ecological toilet: it used sawdust instead of water, it was clean and did not emit odors, which is why it was placed right in the area with dishes.
“I found it hard to believe, but I discovered that there are few manufacturers of ecological toilets in the world and most of them make those plastic toilets, which we all know and avoid, because they smell bad,” he says.
In the whole world, he found only two companies that produce compostable ecological toilets. More and more sought after among followers of sustainability and ecological houses, they are considered less polluting because, instead of using water that must then be purified, they use sawdust that can be turned into compost, including manure. “After doing the research, I set out to produce the first automated toilet with sawdust. There is no such thing anywhere else in the world,” explains the Oradea resident.
With energy from the sun
Because he is not good at engineering, Teo contracted a company to design the toilet he envisioned, and then found a furniture factory willing to produce the Arida Cultus (Latin for dry toilet), as well as he baptized the innovation.
The principle is quite simple: instead of using water, the toilet made of wood and metal has a tank with sawdust, from where approximately 250 grams of this material automatically “drops” into the toilet bowl. Here, a motor operator spreads the sawdust like a blanket, and after the toilet is used, which is detected by specially installed sensors, the sawdust and droppings descend into another tank, lined with a special cleaning bag.
This second tank can be pulled out and the waste bag is simply lifted, sealed and replaced with a clean one. Waste mixed with sawdust can be used to produce compost, i.e. soil fertilizer. “In Bihor, they can also be delivered to the power plant in Săcueni, which uses biomass for electricity production,” says Teo.
Because the toilet does not use water at all, it has a container for hand sanitizer inside. At the same time, it has natural light, but also LED bulbs, powered by a solar panel. The panel also provides the electricity needed for the automated equipment.
With European money
The biggest advantage of this toilet is that it does not need difficult emptying, nor does it smell repulsive, as is often the case with ecological toilets. “The sawdust neutralizes 80-90% of odors”, states Teodor. For even greater efficiency, he recommends the use of small pieces of wood, similar to decorative tree bark, with a menthol smell, in the manure tank.
The innovation proposed by Teodor brought him a financing of 25,000 euros, through a European project of the Bihor County Employment Agency, which sought business ideas proposed by young people from the county. The money arrived only to start the business, so until it is profitable, Teodor continues to work on weekends as a waiter at events.
Together with his partners, the young man has so far created two prototypes of the product, which he presents to potential customers. Because emptying the toilet is easy, Arida Cul