The frequent flyers among you will be no doubt aware that newer airplanes come with increasingly quieter cabins, which can make long flights a little more bearable, but can also be something of a double-edged sword. If you read the title, you already know where we're going with this.
The reduced noise level only amplifies the volume of passengers flushing the toilet, which generally sounds like a terrifying approximation of standing with your head in a jet engine . Luckily, though, some Brigham Young University physicists think they've solved the intractable problem of the overly loud airplane story.
According to ScienceDaily it took two years of experiments, thousands of flushes and three academic publications. The result: A proposed design for a vacuum-assisted toilet that they say is about half as loud as a regular airplane toilet.
The problem is that vakuum-assisted tiles have not really changed much over the last quarter of the century. During ScienceDaily airplane toilets flush with only a little little water ̵
To bring the noise level down, BYU physics tweaked toilet valve design, which included adding more piping to extend the distance between the toilet and the flush valve. Playing around with that, including adjusting the bend of the bowl's pipe attachment, ended up dropping the noise level up to 16 decibels during the flush valve opening. The ScienceDaily report says that the noise fell between 5 and 10 decibels when the valve is opened all the way.
This is only a design for now, but the good news is that it would not require a comprehensive retrofit on existing airplanes. According to this new design, all you'd really have to do is remove the toilet's elbow while making adjustments. The rest of the commode pretty much remains intact.
"At the end of the day," lead researcher Kent Gee told ScienceDaily "This is about using science to improve user experience. It's a significant part of making flights more comfortable for customers. "