Can older incontinent people be a source of new energy? Absolutely, says Japanese automation firm Super Faiths. In a society where elder care is a growth industry, the company has developed a series of recycling machines that turn used diapers--a bulk of them the adult variety--into fuel for biomass boilers and stoves.
We've seen machines that recycle office reports into toilet paper. Well, Super Faith's SFD Recycle System machines address the malodorous problem of tons of used diapers from hospitals and nursing homes going into landfills or being incinerated as waste.
The machines automatically shred, dry, and sterilize used disposable diapers and turn them into bacteria-free material for making fuel pellets.
At a hospital in western Tokyo's Machida area, Super Faiths installed two SFD machines that take in a combined 1,400 pounds of used paper diapers per day. Diapers in plastic bags are dumped into the machines (see them in action from about 5:45 in the video below), which produce material for the pellets about a day later.
The fibrous material is about one-third the weight and volume of the bags of diapers. It also contains about 5,000 kcal of heat per kilogram. The material must then be separately processed into fuel pellets, which can be used to help heat roads, home interiors, or water, Super Faiths suggests.
The firm has three SFD models that can handle 330, 661, and 1,102 pounds of diapers, respectively, per day. It's unclear how much they sell for.
Production of adult diapers in Japan topped 5 billion units for the first time last year, up nearly 7 percent from 2008, according to Kyodo News. Meanwhile, production of diapers for babies was down nearly 2 percent due to the country's low birth rate.
More machines, fewer people. All they need now is a robot nurse to collect the diapers.