An Ecological Toilet System Incorporated with a Hydrothermal Liquefaction Process

Deliang Kong, Changbin Yuan, Maojiong Cao, Zihan Wang, Yuanhui Zhang, Zhidan Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The harmless disposal and resource utilization of human feces is important to the sanitation process. Hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) can convert toilet feces into bio-crude oil and reduce waste. In this study, an integrated eco-toilet system was developed by combining vacuum micro-flush toilets with a continuous hydrothermal liquefaction reactor. The system operated stably for over 10 h. This system can serve 300 households and save 2759 m3 of water per year compared to traditional flush toilets. The energy recovery from the feces was 2.87 times the energy consumed for the HTL process. The HTL bio-crude oil yield was 28 wt%, and the higher heat value (HHV) of the bio-crude was 36.1 MJ/kg. The biochemical compounds of the bio-crude oil consisted of acid ester, hydrocarbons, phenols, and a nitrogenous heterocyclic compound. The carbon in the human feces was mainly transferred to the bio-crude oil, while nitrogen was mainly transferred to the aqueous phase product. The post-HTL aqueous stream could be treated and used as fertilizer. This system achieves energy self-sufficiency, along with water and energy savings. This integrated eco-toilet effectively converts feces into bio-crude to realize waste reduction and resource utilization of human feces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6373
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • hydrothermal liquefaction
  • human waste
  • micro-flush toilet
  • integrated eco-toilet
  • waste reduction
  • energy recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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