Any guy who hits the gym regularly knows the importance of good technique. But what happens when even optimal technique fails you?
Case in point: the urinal. Even when you’re doing your absolute best to aim your pee at the absolute perfect angle, it can often seem like splashback is inevitable. And that sucks, because then you’ve gotta deal with pee splashback on your work pants, your work shoes, or—worse yet—your bathroom neighbors. Yuck.
But there’s hope for the disgruntled urinal user: the Urine Black Hole, a new, ultra-absorbent urinal liner that catches stray droplets and traps them, regardless of your urinal technique. The clever urinal liner was designed by Tadd Truscott, the director of Utah State University’s Splash Lab, and graduate student Randy Hurd, who sought a better way to keep bathrooms (and pants) clean, regardless of the user’s technique.
“Since the mid-nineteenth century, both enlisted and fashion-conscious owners of khaki trousers have been plagued by undesired speckle patterns resulting from splash-back while urinating,” they note in their report, which they presented at the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting in November.
To create a urinal liner that can easily absorb urine without creating a mess, Truscott and Hurd combined the existing “pillar array” design—which traps pee but doesn’t hold it well—with some innovation from natural world. Inspired by so-called “vantablack,” a superdark material that traps light, they mimicked the natural structure of Syntrichia caninervis, a moss that survives in dry climates by efficiently trapping and holding moisture. Hence: A urine black hole.
Pretty cool, right? But until it shows up in a urinal near you, try sitting down: In 2013, the Splash Lab (then at Brigham Young University) found that sitting down is the most successful way to avoid splashback. But for those who prefer to stand, aiming at the back of the urinal at a downward angle and standing as close to the toliet as possible “reduces droplet impact intensity and splashing away from yourself.”