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New Technology:

Flush with Pride

May 2, 2005 | By Andy Guy
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

MLUI/Andy Guy

No water necessary.

In 1992, the United States Congress revised national plumbing codes to require that men’s room urinals use only one gallon per flush. Before that a typical fixture used about three gallons. Now, Falcon WaterFree Technologies is doing the 12-year-old code one gallon per flush better, and business is booming.

The company sells urinals that require no flushing whatsoever because they require absolutely no water. Urine simply flows through an innovative filter located at the bottom of the bowl. The devices are odor-free, cleaner than the typical porcelain potty, and are cheaper to install, operate, and maintain than conventional fixtures.

“Our urinals are a triple play,” said Jay Troger, president of the company’s U.S. division, which moved to Grand Rapids, Mich., in 2003. “They are proven more hygienic. They are
fantastic for the environment. And they save money.”

Mr. Troger said his company’s product also could help Great Lakes citizens address a grotesque and unhealthy problem: Swimming beach closures due to increasingly frequent sewage spills into lakes and rivers.

“Lots of cities are running out of waste treatment capacity, a very expensive challenge,” Mr. Troger said. “So anything you can do to reduce the amount of water going into sewer lines and the treatment facility is good.”

InnovationWORLD, a San Francisco-based research firm that tracks emerging new-economy industries, recently named Falcon one of 21 companies poised for global growth and success. The company’s list of clients includes Daimler Chrysler, stadiums like the Rose Bowl, Western cities such as Beverly Hills, and India’s Taj Mahal. Much closer to home, in the Great Lakes Basin, Michigan State University has made the water-free urinal the standard in new construction and replacements.

“The new fixtures are easier to clean, so we’ve experienced lower maintenance costs,” said Gaston Gosselin, the manager of maintenance services at MSU. “They are more sanitary than conventional urinals. In new buildings, we can reduce upfront construction costs because you don’t have to install the usual plumbing. And we’ve reduced operating expenses because you don’t use as much water, or the
energy to pump it.”

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