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Philips Microbial system fuels your home with your crap – literally

Do you fantasize about living your life like a microbe of waste-producing bacteria? Well, now’s your chance. Unveiled during Dutch Design Week, Philips’ latest home design concept, The Microbial Home, takes inspiration from naturally occurring processes to create energy-saving kitchen, dining and bathroom devices. According to the designers, “‘we view the home as a biological machine to filter, process and recycle what we conventionally think of as waste.”

Think of the system like compartments of a giant cow stomach – as unsavory as that sounds – with each element breaking down material and producing energy. The center of the system is the Methane Bio-Digester, which sort of looks like an all-in-one kitchen island with a chopping surface, sink, gas range and waste grinder (a glorified garbage disposal). What makes it crazy cool, however, is that the Bio-Digester uses material in the waste grinder to develop gas-generating bacteria cultures. The gas is then collected and burnt for use on the stove, or sent through pipes for use in the rest of the house. If that didn’t just blow your mind, you should probably read this paragraph again, because it’s totally effing amazing.

The system also includes a dining table called the “Larder” that doubles as a natural refrigerator. A series of terra cotta storage boxes sit at the center of table, which are warmed by hot water from the Bio-Digester. Through science magic, the evaporation caused by warming the boxes causes the insides of the boxes to cool and keep food fresh. Suspended above the table is a ceramic vegetable garden. The system also includes a mushroom planter that feeds off of discarded plastic (apparently mushrooms have major plastic decomposing enyzmes), an urban beehive (pretty much exactly what it sounds like), a home apothecary system that evaluates your toothbrush bacteria and other gross stuff for signs of disease, and a toilet that separates excrement to fuel the Bio-Digester.

All marketing challenges posed by calling all this stuff Microbial aside, the project is easily the most creative example of domestic sustainability I’ve ever encountered (and if you’re interested, you should really read up about how all these gizmos work together). Rather than slap some recycled barn wood and eco-friendly paint on a kitchen island, Philips is demonstrating a real commitment to innovative new technologies and viable, scientific solutions by funding this project. That said, I’m not planning on installing a poop-repurposer in my home anytime soon. Then again, maybe I should.