Wet Wipes That Turn into Toilet Paper When Flushed

University of Toledo, Toledo, OH

University of Toledo, Toledo, OH team photo
The flushing of wet wipes (even those marketed as flushable) causes clogging in wastewater collection and treatment systems. To this end, our EPA P3 project aims to develop wet wipes that turn into regular toilet paper when flushed. In the video below, we summarize our progress to date, provide a brief demonstration of our best-performing design, and discuss our plans for further research and development.

Our team consists of Ph.D. student Kunal Choudhuri (Chemical Engineering) and undergraduate students Reece Kendall (Chemical Engineering) and Michael Griffin (Environmental Sciences). Dr. Yakov Lapitsky (PI) and Dr. Youngwoo Seo (Co-PI) lead the project.

EPA P3 Video Presentation

Poster (click to open a full size image): 
Wet Wipes That Turn into Toilet Paper When Flushed poster

This poster provides an overview of our efforts toward designing biopolymer and toilet paper-based wet wipes that turn back into regular toilet paper when flushed. To date, we have examined two approaches to achieving this: one based on surfactant/biopolymer complexation and another based on ethanol-induced biopolymer gelation. Both strategies form solvated matrices of toilet paper interspersed with biopolymeric gels that turn back into regular toilet paper when placed in excess water. However, only one of these approaches (the ethanol-induced gelation) imparts the wipes with the target mechanical strength. Plans for future work and anticipated outcomes and conclusions are also briefly discussed.